Category Archives: Guest Blogger

Dementia Care: Filling the Role of Spouse and Caregiver


The Purple Jacket is pleased to welcome back guest writer, Samantha Stein from ALTCP.org. 

Dementia care is difficult because of all the changes the care recipient goes through. No amount of money or precaution can fully prepare families for when dementia strikes a loved one, and this reality is even more devastating for many couples. To illustrate, here is a video we came across online of Bob Treanor and his wife, Ruth. Bob provides valuable insight on what it is like for individuals to become dementia caregivers to their spouses.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEcgUNwwFto

Dementia affects the lives of many individuals. And as the video shows, it certainly does not only take its toll on the diagnosed. It also alters the lives of the people closest to the patient.

For this week’s post, let us discuss all of the intricacies of dementia and what caregivers go through for their family members and loved ones going through it.

Dementia Explained

Before anything else, let us clarify one common misconception: dementia is not a disease. It is the term used to refer to the severe decline in memory or thinking ability that it hinders a person from accomplishing everyday tasks. These signs and symptoms vary, but the most common ones are as follows:

  • Memory Loss
  • Difficulty in language and communication
  • Change in Attention Span
  • Reasoning and Judgment
  • Visual Perception
  • Behavioral Changes

Another misconception that people have is that dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are the same. However, the latter is, in fact, a type of dementia. The other types are listed below:

  • Vascular dementia
  • Dementia with Lewy bodies
  • Mixed dementia
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • Normal pressure hydrocephalus
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Wernicke-Karsakoff Syndrome

Dementia Caregiving Statistics

While it may depend on the type of care that they provide, caregivers often put themselves at a great risk by taking on the responsibility of supporting their loved ones. We have all heard the stories about it; co-workers barely meeting deadlines because of caregiving duties, people have even left their jobs to fulfill the role full-time, or neighbors leaving their homes to move in with loved ones. It is not an easy feat and it requires more dedication than anyone can ever really understand.

Dementia caregivers are no stranger to this circumstance. In a study released by the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 15 million family members and friends have provided 18.1 billion hours of unpaid care to loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other dementia in 2015. The economic value of all this was worth over $221 billion. Moreover, 38-percent of dementia caregivers have shared that they have been doing the work for six years or more. When a person takes on a responsibility this big and it lasts this long, it is bound to have negative effects on his or her well-being.

As cited in the same study, caregivers to dementia care recipients are 3.5 times more likely to say that the greatest consequence of the task is that it creates or aggravates their own health problems. Inevitably, these caregivers do not get to walk away from the experience unscathed. Physically, emotionally, financially, socially, or mentally, dementia caregivers will have to face some type of health problem during or after the care.

Lastly, and perhaps the most devastating discovery is that people caring for their loved ones hospitalized for dementia are more likely to pass away the following year, even after accounting for the spousal caregiver’s age.

Gender Differences in Caregiving to a Spouse with Dementia

Traditionally, caregiving is perceived by the majority as a woman’s task. This may be because of her nurturing nature or because of the traditional gender roles in society. However, the perception and behavior of society is rapidly changing. As seen in Bob and Ruth’s story, men are also becoming increasingly open to caregiving.

Gender Differences in Caregiving among Family – Caregivers of People with Mental Illness, a study published last year, attributes the growing change to longer life spans, more women taking on jobs outside the home, and smaller families. Similar to the reasons that women have in assuming the role of caregivers, men are driven to assume the responsibility by a sense of affection, commitment, and family responsibility.

Unfortunately, research that focuses on this subject is still quite limited. Most studies still pay little attention to male caregivers and maintain focus their female counterparts.

couple(Photo Credit: Pixabay)

Redefining Marriage

Marriages take the biggest hit when it comes to dementia. Perhaps, this is might be one of the biggest tests to “in sickness and in health.” Imagine slowly watching partner forget about a life that you had built together over the decades. Not only that, imagine feeling angry at the whole situation and wishing it was all over, then immediately being consumed by the overwhelming guilt of even entertaining the thought. This is the reality that many dementia caregivers face on a regular basis.

Physically present, but psychologically absent—this is how Pauline Boss Ph.D. describes how spouses can change when dementia takes over in her NextAvenue article entitled, For Caregivers of Spouse with Dementia, a Redefinition of Marriage. For many spousal caregivers, dementia has turned their married lives into an abstract relationship that feels like “living with a stranger” or “loving half a person.” It is no longer about building and maintaining a perfect relationship. As Boss puts it, it becomes pushing to make the relationship good enough.

We get a further look into this through John R. Smith’s How to Care for a Spouse with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s. Just in his early 40s, he has become the primary caregiver of his wife whose health condition is so advanced that she has lost the ability to brush her teeth, bathe, or even remember his name.

One striking point in his account is how spousal caregivers will feel a unique kind of isolation. When your spouse could barely remember your name, how can he or she truly give consent to intimacy? Despite it being a taboo in some social circles, sex is one of the most basic needs of a human being. Dementia can and will take that away in marriages because, as Smith’s therapist puts it, it will start to feel like date rape.

The Importance of Self-Care

In the chaos, success, and emotional turmoil that come with caregiving for a spouse with dementia, caregivers can easily neglect their own lives. In their minds, their spouse’s needs become the primary concern. However, prioritizing their own care concerns and needs is and will always be important, and they should not feel guilty for it.

Spousal caregivers, especially those handling cases as consuming as dementia in their own homes, can feel as if anything that takes their time and attention away from their spouse is not worth the thought. In some cases, taking a break could even feel as if their being selfish and spending the money on anything that they want feels like a substantial waste of limited resources.

But taking care of themselves does matter immensely. In Smith’s case, he stopped eating properly because he dedicated most of his time and their resources caring for his wife. He ended up losing weight, and every time his wife would stumble and fall, he would have trouble picking her up.

Your Concerns and Emotions are Valid

It has been said countless times before, but let’s reiterate: the quality of your care depends on how much you care for yourself. To the caregiver reading this, your health matter just as much as your spouse’s, so take the time to safeguard it.

As stated above, most caregivers learn later on that their own health concerns are aggravated by the responsibility of caring for their spouses. Stop, and reevaluate if you have enough saved away for that. The different types of long term care facilities may vary in prices, but none of them come cheap. Bear in mind that preparing yourself for the long term care costs you might have to face is all right.

Also, taking the time to continue doing what you love to do is not just acceptable but necessary. Maintaining good health by eating right (even if it is a little more expensive) and exercising can help you handle caregiving so much easier. Keeping your mind and your body in shape will make you a more effective caregiver. A strong body will help you handle the physical demands of caregiving, whether it is heavy lifting or working longer hours. A sound mind will help you handle the emotional roller coaster that come with it.

Lastly, but just as vital, remember that it is okay to ask for help. You are human. Exhaustion and frustration will come, and there will be times when you feel like you are filled to the brim. When this happens, know that those emotions are valid and that they do not make you a horrible spouse. Just ask for help from the people you trust the most. It may be from your children, other family members or even your neighbors. If budget permits it, the help might even come from a hired extra pair of hands.

Author Bio:

Samantha Stein is an online content manager for ALTCP.org. Her works focus on key information on long term care insurance, finance, elder care, and retirement. In line with the organization’s goal, Samantha creates content that helps raise awareness on the importance of having a comprehensive long-term care insurance plan not just for the good of the individual but for the safety of the entire family.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Caregiving, Dementia, Guest Blogger

5 Unexpected Symptoms of Stress and What to Do About Them


Today we welcome guest writer Trevor McDonald to The Purple Jacket

The human body is an intricate machine, and if something goes awry it can impact a variety of subsystems. Rarely is there an issue with “just” one specific part of the body—and it’s also important to remember that holistic wellness includes physical, spiritual, emotional, mental, and social health. Stress is a big wrench thrown into the human system, and in Western countries it’s often hefted with a sense of pride. However, stress can really do a number on the body, and some symptoms can take weeks, months, or even years to manifest.

You likely know about the obvious signs of stress, such as headaches and fatigue, but stress can play out in the body in a number of tricky ways. Here are five unexpected stress symptoms that you might not see coming, and what to do about them:

  1. Hair loss. There are many causes for hair loss and issues that exacerbate them, and genetics is just part of it. Stress can cause men’s hair loss, and even women’s hair loss. The hair is one of the last places the body routes nutrients towards because it’s not nearly as necessary for survival, unlike many other body parts (such as organs, muscles, and bones). Hair goes through natural shedding cycles, but if you’re constantly exposed to stress it might seem like your hair is in non-stop shedding mode. Stress-related hair loss usually presents as exaggerated thinning and not the classic “male pattern baldness” or patches of baldness.

What can you do about it? The first step is doing something  to reduce stress. There are also a variety of hair loss reversal tactics, such as using topical minoxidil (Rogaine’s active ingredient) to stimulate hair growth and stop stress-related shedding. Only shampooing every two or three days with a paraben-free shampoo designed to stimulate the scalp can also help. Laser combs and helmets with stimulating diodes have also shown great promise.

  1. Skin breakouts. Your skin is the largest organ on your body, but preventing breakouts is at the bottom of your body’s to-do list. Both stress and hormone shifts can cause acne, breakouts, and flare-ups. Acne can be painful, but if it’s stress-related it’s likely more embarrassing and a confidence killer than anything else. Fortunately, there are many ways to address it.

Again, reduce stress. Try over the counter topical treatments first, as well as acne-specific facial cleansers and astringents. Moving to prescription-based topicals is the next step. In severe cases, medications may be prescribed or a dermatologist might suggest dermabrasion or chemical peels to correct acne scarring.

  1. Low libido. Few people feel “in the mood” when they’re highly stressed, which is perfectly normal. However, if you’re chronically stressed, your libido may chronically suffer. This can cause big problems in relationships, preventing you from bonding.

Lower your stress, and you’ll raise your libido. Other approaches include prioritizing intimacy with partners, scheduling romantic dates, and making an effort to feel and look your best. Remember that intimacy is paramount for many to bond.

  1. Thin, peeling nails. Not only can stress cause nails to be fragile, you might also be inclined to bite and chew them from stress. Your hands operate as a quick, easy sign of overall health. In professional and personal relationships, you might be judged by your hands.

 Stress reduction is still the number one route to healthier nails. Regular manicures for both men and women can also work wonders. Opt for a paraffin dip, keep nails short and trimmed if they’re prone to breaking, and keep your hands moisturized throughout the day to prevent cracking and hangnails. A biotin supplement can also aid in hair, skin, and nail health.

  1. Almost every disease imaginable. Stress has been linked to almost every disease there is including heart disease, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, mental health issues like depression and anxiety, and much more. Some of these diseases are curable, but many are not. Many can also be life-threatening.

If you needed another reason to reduce stress, this is it. Stress management is core to overall health and well-being. Preventative care, including stress reduction, is the easiest, fastest, and most affordable way to manage or avoid deadly and painful diseases and disorders.

Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic whose been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources and addiction awareness. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.

LinkedIn

Website

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Guest Blogger

Is There A Connection Between Dementia and Dirty Air?


Today we welcome a contribution from freelance writer  Jess Walters to “The Purple Jacket”

Why Caregivers Should Monitor Air Quality

Caring for a loved one is a heavy burden, and you’ll want to do the best you can for them. Some of the duties you will perform as a carer are quite typical, such as feeding, shopping and cleaning. However, there are other less obvious things to consider when looking after someone. A topic that isn’t usually at the forefront of people’s minds is the quality of air.

Scientists believe that there may be a link between polluted air which is high in magnetite, and dementia. People with dementia have elevated levels of magnetite in their brains. Therefore, it is vital that the air is clean for yourself and your loved one. You can do this by using a portable air purifier, and by purchasing high quality filters for your HVAC, which will screen smaller particles in the air.

A silent buildup of tiny magnets in the brain sounds like science fiction, but researchers say it’s reality for adults who live in cities, thanks to air pollution. Now, they’re trying to find out if high levels of magnetite, a particle found in dirty air, can cause Alzheimer’s. They’re concerned because Alzheimer’s patients also have lots of magnetite in their brains. It’s not yet clear if elevated brain magnetite levels are a cause or an effect of dementia, but magnetite is hardly the only air pollutant, and there’s no question that cleaner air is better for your health. Here are some tips for clearing the air for yourself and your parents.

Keep an eye on local air quality

Local industries, pollen, dust storms, and wildfires can create health hazards for seniors, especially those with allergies, asthma, and lung diseases. Most local weather forecasts now include information on daily air quality, including the types and amounts of pollutants such as ozone and dust. You can also visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s real-time national air quality map at AirNow, enter your zip code or and see local air quality and tomorrow’s forecast.

When the pollutants and pollen are high, it may be best to stay indoors or at least avoid exercising outdoors. You may be tempted to put on a mask and get on with outdoor activities despite the dirty air, but health experts warn that thick, tight-fitting masks that can filter out pollution particles may also make it harder to breathe. Read the rest of this guide here.

“Jess Walter  is a freelance writer and mother. She loves the freedom that comes with freelance life and the additional time it means she gets to spend with her family and pets.” Jess Walter <jesswalterwriter@gmail.com>

Leave a comment

Filed under Caregiving, Dementia, Guest Blogger

An Overlooked Issue: Alcohol and Drug Addiction Among the Elderly


Today we welcome guest blogger Trevor to The Purple Jacket. 

When you think of substance abuse, you may think it’s a problem for the young. But the stats show that teens aren’t the ones at greatest risk for addiction. In fact, it could be their grandparents.

As Baby Boomers approach their senior years, they may be bringing some demons of their past. One study published by the Society for the Study of Addiction showed that marijuana use of adults over 65 grew a startling 250 percent from 2006 to 2013.

Another study found that older women and Hispanics are having more issues with alcoholism than ever before.

Why is this so alarming? Well, we know that substance abuse is harmful at any age, but it can cause more serious problems in the elderly. The risks associated with alcohol and drug abuse are much greater in your senior years.

Diagnosing the problem

Symptoms of substance abuse often mimic other symptoms that are related to the natural aging process, so alcoholism or drug abuse can easily go undetected. Many health practitioners are also unaware of the depth of this problem, and so they are unlikely to ask the right questions or run the appropriate tests.

The hidden dangers of senior addiction

As we age, our bodily functions begin slowing. This includes liver and waste removal functions that help rid the body of toxins like alcohol. When a senior consumes alcohol, it is likely to affect them faster and stay in their system longer than someone younger.

Seniors are also more likely than any other demographic group to take multiple prescription medications daily. And many common prescription drugs are dangerous when combined with alcohol or other drugs. Even over-the-counter medicines can pose a danger when combined with alcohol, so it’s important pay careful attention.

How to spot substance abuse in seniors

Although it’s more difficult to spot the signs of elderly drug and alcohol addiction in seniors, there are some red flags that can help identify a problem. If the senior in your life is exhibiting the following behaviors, it may be cause for concern.

Substance abuse warning signs

  • Desire to spend time alone – This could be a sign of secretive drinking or substance abuse.
  • Drinking rituals – Although having a little wine with dinner isn’t a crime, if it is consistent, you may want to look for other warning signs.
  • Slurred speech – If slurred speech is out of character and not related to a medical problem, there’s a possibility of substance abuse
  • Depression – A person who is depressed is more prone to substance abuse, and substance abuse may also cause depression. So if you notice that your loved one is frequently depressed, this could signal a larger problem.
  • Increased falling/balance loss – This one can be tricky because it’s not uncommon for seniors to have balance issues, but if it seems to come out of nowhere and/or is combined with other warning signs, there may be a substance abuse problem.
  • Doctor “shopping” – If the senior in your life changes doctors frequently, this is a red flag. It may be a sign that they are shopping around for multiple prescriptions.

Treatment options for senior substance abuse

Identifying the problem is the first step, but how you handle it is just as important. Communication is of the utmost importance. When you broach the subject, do so with empathy and respect. You’ll want to send the message that you’re coming from a place of love and understanding.

In many cases, older adults aren’t aware of the increased risk of senior substance abuse. Sharing this knowledge can be helpful.

There are many support groups available for helping older people remove substance abuse from their lives. These are also places where they can find the kind of fellowship that they may be missing. It’s always beneficial to have the support of people who are in a similar situation to your own.

Therapy is always a good option too. It can help him or her get to the root of the problem and begin to find solutions.

Elderly substance abuse is a growing problem that can affect any of the seniors in our lives. Look out for the warning signs to help keep your loved ones safe.

Bio:

Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic whose been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources and addiction awareness. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.  

You can contact Trevor via LinkedIn or his website Website

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Alcohol, Caregiving, Guest Blogger

Helping a Loved One Apply for Social Security Disability


Today we welcome guest blogger Bryan MacMurry from the  Disability Benefits Help. Disability Benefits Help provides information about disability benefits and the application process.

Helping a Loved One Apply for Social Security Disability

As a caregiver, you’ve probably helped your loved one with various types of paperwork related to their medical condition. If they have become so debilitated due to a mental or physical ailment that they are no longer able to work, they will probably require your assistance in applying for Social Security Administration (SSA) disability benefits.

Here are some things you should know about SSA benefits. These insights will help you determine which program your loved one is eligible for as well as the steps that need to be taken to complete the application process.

What Disability Benefits Are Available?

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, a person must be completely disabled, which means that they must be unable to perform any kind of substantial gainful activity and their disability is expected to last for at least a year or to end in their death.

The SSA has two support programs intended to help people with diagnosed disability support themselves financially and have access to the medical treatment they need. Each program is meant for a different type of applicant but both of them will pay monthly cash benefits to those reswho meet the medical criteria required for eligibility.

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): This program pays benefits to disabled workers based on their past earnings. To be eligible for SSDI, your loved one must have worked a certain number of years prior to becoming disabled and paid into Social Security. Once approved, he or she will be eligible for Medicare coverage after two years.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): This program is “means-tested,” meaning that it is intended for those in financial need. Applicants must have less than $2,000 in assets and a highly limited income, which makes SSI a program geared more toward children and the elderly. SSI recipients can also receive Medicaid in their state.

Medically Qualifying for Disability Benefits

When your loved one applies for disability, the SSA will evaluate his or her eligibility by consulting the Blue Book, which is its official publication of disabling conditions. The Blue Book, which has one section for children and another for adults, requires an applicant to meet the listed criteria of a disabling condition in order to qualify for benefits.

When you help your loved one apply, you will also have to collect and submit medical documentation that confirms his or her diagnosis and outlines their treatment history. Their treating physician will fill out a residual functional capacity (RFC) form, which the SSA will use to evaluate how the applicant’s illness has affected their ability to maintain gainful employment. SSI applicants will have to be interviewed by a SSA representative, so prepare to be present to provide any necessary support.

The Compassionate Allowances Program

Applicants with certain disabilities can be automatically qualified as disabled and have their applications fast-tracked via the Compassionate Allowances program. These conditions include breast cancer, acute leukemia, heart transplant graft failure, and mixed dementias.

Qualifying for Benefits With a Medical-Vocational Allowance

If your loved one does not meet any Blue Book listing but his or her RFC analysis indicates that they are unable to maintain gainful employment, they may still qualify for SSD benefits under a medical vocational allowance system. The SSA will review all medical documentation to evaluate how the illness has hindered their ability to perform daily activities as well as functions related to jobs they are trained and qualified for. If the SSA concludes that their symptoms leave them significantly impaired, they may be granted disability benefits under a medical-vocational allowance. This program is intended for those who are genuinely unable to work but could not meet a Blue Book listing.

For more information about applying for SSA disability benefits on behalf of a disabled loved one, please visit the SSA website at https://www.ssa.gov/, schedule an appointment at your closest SSA office, or call 1-800-772-1213. Monthly disability payments will make it easier for your loved one to meet his or her medical and financial needs, which will give both of you peace of mind.

Disability Benefit Help is responsible for the content written in this article.

“This article was written by the Outreach Team at Disability Benefits Help. They provide information about disability benefits and the application process. To learn more, please visit their website at http://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org or by contacting them at help@ssd-help.org.”

Leave a comment

December 23, 2016 · 12:20 pm

How Single Mothers Should Ideally Spend Their Daily Life


We welcome guest blogger Andrea Bell back to The Purple Jacket

According to U.S. Census Bureau, out of about 12 million single parent families in 2015, more than 80% were headed by single mothers. Today, 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 — a total of about 17.4 million — are being raised without a father.

For whatever reason, whether they chose to not get married, their husband left or died, the bottom line is – single mothers have their work cut out for them. Single mothers are usually labelled ‘super moms’ for going the extra mile every time for their children. The label is justified, since a single mother spends every waking moment trying to make her child’s life fulfilling and memorable.

A single mother puts her children above everything else.

The day-to-day responsibilities of a single mother are no different than that of married women; coping with sleeplessness, finding child care, paying bills and more. All with the added burden of no one else to rely on.

Still, single mothers agree, that even when overcome with their duties, there’s usually a way to work the issues out.

Here are some tips on how to overcome the struggles of being a single mother.

  1. Build a support system

As a single working parent, you might need a helping hand every now and then, while taking care of your child. It is very important to form a healthy social network of caring individuals around you. Go on day trips with your close friends and family and help your children get acquainted with them. This helps the children form a trustworthy bond with them. Make them believe that they can rely on their relatives for constant support regarding big decisions.

It is important to develop adult relationships as a single mother since it will prevent you from depending too much on your children for emotional support.

  1. Maintain a civil relationship with your Ex

Whether you are separated or divorced, work on maintaining a mature relationship with your ex-partner. On-going conflicts between the two of you can have a negative impact on your children, making them feel frustrated, stressed out and bitter. Make sure your children never become a part of your battles.

Avoid making your children decide on who is the best parent between you and your ex. If the ex is critical of you to your kids, avoid indulging in an argument and instead respond by saying that you’re doing the best you can and children are comfortable with how you are handling things around the house.

Children want to have a healthy relationship with both parents and the freedom to feel, however they want to, about them. They will appreciate your efforts to remain civil about the relationship, giving them a chance to experience strong parenthood.

  1. Spend quality time with your kids

By every means, try to spend quality time with your children, even if it is just 20 minutes a day. It is important to know about the people that influence their lives; teachers, friends, coaches. Go on a holiday and family trips if you think it’ll be an honest opportunity to get to know your kids more. Forming a strong bond with your children, while they are young, is crucial. Talk to them about their daily activities, their interests and most importantly their problems.

Make your children feel more ‘involved’ in household activities. Have a fun-Sunday kitchen routine where you can ask your children to help you cook. Give them small jobs like getting stuff from the pantry or chopping vegetables with a plastic knife. Help them communicate effectively with an adult.

  1. Keep an eye on what you eat

As an active, single mother, you need to have a healthy diet in order to keep your immune system strong. It’s hard to find fitting food when you are balancing two things at once; home and work, but it is essential to have a well-balanced diet.

You might end up eating too much on some stressful days. Try to cut back on junk and binge on healthy snacks instead. Fruits, nuts and vegetables are excellent choices to boost your immunity.

From my personal experience, herbal teas often act as de-stressors while also working on your immune system activity. Detox your body and you will feel lighter and charged up to take on your daily routine.

  1. Sweat it out and get some sleep

As an individual doing a two-person job, getting some sound sleep and having me-time can help you unwind from the challenges of your daily routine. It is normal to feel frustrated and bitter. These feelings linger within your mind because of the stressful lifestyle you must follow as a single working mother.

Your children solely depend on you for protection. You cannot afford to go beyond your limits where you start feeling emotionally and physically drained.

Recharge your batteries, even if you have to temporarily switch your child care provider or simply get a family member to help you out. Spend that time doing activities you like such as meditation, Yoga, exercise or just good old-fashioned sleep. It is important to take a breather every now and then, to remain healthy.

In order to maintain your strength and resilience, you must incorporate these strategies in your daily life. Don’t rule out emotions altogether and do the best that you can. Your kids will love you no matter what. You will soon realize that your single parent family can truly survive all odds.

Author Bio:

Andrea Bell is freelance writer by day and sports fan by night.  Andrea writes about tech education and health related issues (but not at the same time). Live simply, give generously, watch football and a technology lover. Find Andrea  on twitter @IM_AndreaBell.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Caregiving, Guest Blogger, Guest Bloggers

Smart Home Technology that Connects Caregivers


Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Arthur C. Clarke

The Purple Jacket is pleased to welcome back one of our favorite guest bloggers, Maria Alice

Caring for a loved one at home can be a challenge, but it’s also tremendously rewarding. Seniors are the fastest growing demographic in the United States, and the number of people who require care and monitoring at home continues to rise. Fortunately, modern technology now provides a broad assortment of tools that make in-home caregiving less stressful, more effective and safer than ever.

2016-07-28-1469685942-7343603-smarthomeThe Smart Home

For the aging or disabled, home automation offers great promise as a way to make their home safer, more accessible and better equipped to handle their specific needs. The modern smart home features a host of inter-connected appliances, fixtures and systems that are easily voice-controlled and able to be set to schedules, from locking doors at night to turning on lights and opening blinds in the morning.

Improving Quality of Life

The influx of smart products designed to aid seniors and disabled people is a significant step toward providing a higher quality of life. Accessible controls and automated scheduling mean more control over the local environment, granting more of the independence and agency that is so important to so many seniors. Caregivers, too, can enjoy the benefits of automation. The ability to automate many of the tasks that once demanded their attention leaves more time for caregivers to care for their loved ones, handle other tasks or even take a bit of personal time.

Improving Health Care

For caregivers, the health of their loved one is always a worry. Here, too, technology offers a variety of aids. Automated medication dispensers allow the elderly to handle their own medications without the typical risks of forgetting pills or taking the wrong dosages. Wearable technology, while still in the early stages of development, promises to provide a convenient and unobtrusive way for caregivers and even health professionals to monitor important vital signs and other health information.

For those caring for someone afflicted with Alzheimer’s, devices such as GPS-enabled trackers, door alarms and other monitors even offer the ability to send immediate alerts to a caregiver should their loved one attempt to leave the house after a set time.

Safety Through Technology

Security, too, is of paramount importance when it comes to the elderly. Remote monitoring allows caregivers to keep tabs on their loved one at any time, employing home security cameras not only for protection against outside threats but to allow monitoring from any location. Many of today’s security systems also feature monitoring for fire, carbon monoxide and other potential hazards.

Security can be further enhanced by installing door locks that can be automated or remotely controlled, implementing access codes to control who can enter the home and at what times and using a camera to safely identify visitors at the door.

The smart technology revolution is barely underway, yet it has already radically altered how caregivers protect and care for their loved ones. The elderly, ill or disabled finally have the tools to allow them more control, independence and accessibility to take on aspects of their lives that they were previously not able to manage, while technology also lessens the burden on caregivers. This benefits everyone, resulting in happier seniors, improved safety and quality of care and less stress for those who care for them.

Maria Alice is a freelance writer currently living in Chicago. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a minor in Communication. She blogs about environmentally friendly tips, technological advancements, and healthy active lifestyles.

Join Us in Chicago on December 2 and 3 for the 1st Annual National Caregiving Conference hosted by Caregiving.com.  Registration is now open by clicking here!  .  Sponsorship  and Exhibitor opportunities available, contact me direct at Chris@thepurplejacket.com for details.  

For additional information on the conference click in the National Caregiving Conference click on the icons below or visit http://www.caregiving.com/national-caregiving-conference-hub/

National Caregiving Conference (1)

NCCFlyerB&W

Leave a comment

Filed under Guest Blogger

Home Safety Tips for Seniors


We welcome back one of our favorite guest bloggers, Maria Alice, to The Purple Jacket!

We all value our independence and autonomy, both of which are threatened as a person gets older. It’s always better for an elderly person to continue to live in their own home, in familiar surroundings, where they are comfortable. For the majority of the elderly, this arrangement is possible with the right support. In today’s world, safety and home monitoring are easier than ever before.

Home Security

One of the best ways to keep your elderly loved one safe is to have a home security system installed. You can find more information and great resources about different kinds of systems here. The benefit is two-fold: this gives your elderly family member a way to signal if there is a medical emergency, and it also provides protection from outside threats. It’s not pleasant to consider that elderly people living alone might be targets of crime, but unfortunately criminals prey on those least able to defend themselves.

Safety in the Bathroom

The bathroom can be a hazard for older people, whose vision and balance will most likely not be as good as it once was. Slipping in the tub and falling is a common source of injury in the elderly and can have tragic results, especially for those who live alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every five falls among the elderly leads to broken bones or a head injury. Steps can be taken to minimize risk, such as installing a step-in shower or adding a slip-proof surface to the bottom of the tub. Handrails can also be a major help to senior citizens and should be installed next to the toilet and in the shower.

Lighting and Clutter

Memory and mental function are often impaired in older people, especially those in the early stages of dementia. Sufficient lighting can make a big difference in preventing accidents, as can keeping the home clear of obstacles. The old saying, “a place for everything and everything in its place” was never more appropriate than when describing the kind of environment an elderly person needs. As memory fades, it’s more important than ever for everyday necessities to be within reach and in a familiar place.

Home Hazards

Anything that poses a threat to the safety of your loved one should be put away or safety-proofed. Sharp knives may need to be removed from the kitchen. Hazardous corners should be covered with plastic bumpers. Make sure that there is a clear path to follow from one room to another throughout the house, since the risk of falling increases with age.

Carbon Monoxide and Fire Alarms

Besides a security system, carbon monoxide and fire alarms are two other ways that modern technology can help keep your elderly parent or loved one safe. Because memory in seniors can decrease, there is always the possibility they may turn on an appliance and then forget about it. It is also difficult to determine that there is carbon monoxide in your home without an alarm so it is important to have one installed and checked regularly.

Road Map to Independence

Taking these steps will increase the likelihood of an elderly individual living a safe and happy life in their own home. A security system will provide health and safety monitoring, and modifications to the bathroom can have a great impact on an elderly person’s mobility and independence.

Securing the environment from hazards by providing plenty of lighting and eliminating clutter are first steps toward creating a safe home. And of course, every home should have carbon monoxide and fire alarms to protect the people inside. With these steps, you can provide your elderly loved one with the independence and satisfaction that comes from continuing to live in their own home.

Maria Alice is a freelance writer currently living in Chicago. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a minor in Communication. She blogs about environmentally friendly tips, technological advancements, and healthy active lifestyles.

2 Comments

Filed under Caregiving, Guest Blogger, Guest Bloggers

The Conference on Aging Wrap-Up


We welcome Guest Blogger, Maria Ramos to The Purple Jacket!

The Conference on Aging Wrap-Up

The White House hosted the much-anticipated Conference on Aging on July 13th. This long-running event, held once per decade since 1961, explores the issues facing the elderly, their caregivers and families, while promoting new advances in technology and government programs. In addition to the attendance of some 200 delegates, the conference was broadcast over the web, allowing access to viewers across the country. With the White House as organizer, and President Obama giving a keynote speech, this prestigious conference shined a spotlight on challenges facing the elderly that might otherwise have gone unreported.

In his address, the president highlighted the importance of Medicare and Medicaid in providing funding for elder care, and explained how the Affordable Care Act aids in reducing the number of Americans who lack health insurance, and by making prescription drugs less expensive. Besides health care, he also mentioned the significance of social security, private pensions and 401k plans in making sure that retirees have enough money to comfortably live on. President Obama wants to make it easier for workers to enroll in retirement plans and receive tax benefits for doing so. As he praised the efforts made by previous generations, he also stressed the fact that more work needs to be done to foster the welfare of senior citizens.

As viewers tuned in at hundreds of watch parties around the country, and participated through Twitter, discussions took place about the level of care required by the nation’s oldest citizens. Because life expectancy in the United States has reached nearly 80 years, up from about 70 years half a century ago, there are many more elders today who need assistance particularly those with Alzheimer’s disease or other debilitating conditions. Some caregivers are trying to take care of their own parents while at the same time raising children. By allowing flexible working hours and paid leave, society can make it easier for people to care for their loved ones without putting themselves at financial risk. Also touching upon the topic of financial loss, discussions were held about the need for financial caregivers to carefully steward elders’ financial health just as traditional caregivers promote their physical health.

As it has transformed so many aspects of society, so too is modern technology changing the lives of the elderly for the better. This topic was explored in a panel called “Technology and the Future of Aging.” Participants spoke about the fact that a growing number of seniors are learning how to properly use electronic devices despite the popular conception that old people have no interest in modern technology. By using sensors and remotely accessible video cameras to track the daily habits of elders, their loved ones can easily keep tabs on their health from afar. At the same time, fully featured home automation equipment enables the elderly to remotely control their utilities, home security systems, door locks and other components of their homes automatically. These advances will make it possible for large numbers of seniors to remain in familiar surroundings, or “age in place” rather than having to move to assisted living facilities.

Although changing demographic trends mean that there are fewer younger people around today to care for a larger population of seniors, there are many ways in which society can step in and lend a hand. From new policies for workplaces and retirement plans, to broadening health insurance options, we’re moving in the direction of seriously working towards the happiness and well-being of those above the age of 65. Just as technological developments are largely responsible for many people living to their retirement years in the first place, so will they make  those years richer, more convenient and more secure.

Maria Ramos is a freelance writer currently living in Chicago. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a minor in Communication. She blogs about environmentally friendly tips, technological advancements, and healthy active lifestyles.

Thank You Maria for your great post!

Leave a comment

Filed under Guest Blogger