Family caregivers have so many things on their minds.
That’s especially true for those who are part of the sandwich generation and care not only for senior loved ones but their children — and sometimes spouses too!
Every day we hear more things that we should be noting on behalf of the seniors in our lives.
Sometimes it seems important information is zipping by us at the speed of light when we are focused on something else important.
Because some of these latest tidbits could be important to you and your senior loved one, we thought we would bring some of them together in one place to give you a recap.
Pacemaker Wearers Beware
A new study warns us about how and where we should be using our technology for our personal health. Researchers from the European Society of Cardiology just released their findings, which suggest that there may be interference of your cardiac device if you put it too close to your smartphone.
Specifically implanted devices, such as pacemakers and defibrillators, should be kept a safe distance from smartphones to avoid signaling interference with the medical devices.
They aren’t suggesting that seniors and others with implanted cardiac devices stop using smartphone technology but instead are encouraging us to be cautious when putting our phones over the medical devices, especially in a chest pocket.
Most of us don’t stop to think that this could be a problem, but we have seen many people who drop their phones into their shirt or jacket pocket without a thought.
Researchers also encourage us to use our phones on the ear opposite of the medical device. While the harm appears to be low, causing the cardiac device to stop working even for a brief period could result in fainting. The cardiac device could also interpret the interference as life-threatening and produce a painful shock.
It doesn’t seem to be worth the risk when we can store the phone elsewhere.
The Food and Drug Administration currently recommends that cellphones be kept five to seven inches away from any implanted cardiac device.
It seems that high electric fields of any kind, including high-voltage power lines (not those entering your home) overhead and in substations, could interfere with the proper functioning of implanted cardiac devices too.
Experts report that it is safe to walk under power lines but not stay under them for prolonged periods.
Identity Theft Reminders
We know that our identity is at risk from criminals who want what we have. There are many security precautions we can all take, including family caregivers of seniors who help them stay protected.
We know about not giving out personal information over the phone or online, ignoring pfishing emails looking for us to divulge personal data and the phone call from another country trying to get bail money for our ‘grandkids’.
There are, however, more things for which we should be on the lookout that we might not realize could put us at risk.
- When we are shopping at any store, grocery or retail, beware of the clerk asking for your zip code when you pay by credit card. They ask this information only for their marketing purposes and you can refuse to provide it because it isn’t needed to process your charge. Your number could be used by scammers, who know the zip code is needed at untended credit card terminals, such as at gasoline pumps. This protects the merchant from someone other than the cardholder using the pump — unless, of course, a thief with your card also has your zip code.
- Don’t post personal information, such as your zip code or other identifiers that could be stolen, on social media platforms such as Facebook. You should not make your personal passwords names or locations that a scammer can get off your Facebook page, like your dog’s name or street address.
- Joining birthday clubs for some businesses may not be a good idea because scammers could get that information and pair it up with other data they obtained about you to steal your identity. A free ice cream cone on your birthday, not matter how good it tastes, is not worth the risk.
- Don’t carry important documents such as your social security card, passport or your checkbook. If they are lost or stolen they can be used as a key to unlock your financial kingdom!
Apps For Seniors and Caregivers
There are many apps coming to market and some of them are useful, but naturally not all. How do you decide which app would be helpful or just time consuming to use?
It is important to be clear in defining your need. Do you need something to help remind your senior to take medications or do you want to know if they took them at all?
There are smartphone or tablet apps for all your specific needs. Here are a few you might find helpful:
- Red Panic Button – it costs a marginal amount of money but it could help in an emergency. It will show up as a big red button that, when pushed, will send a text message and email alert with GPS coordinates to preset contacts and medical personnel. It acts like a “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up button’ on your senior’s smartphone.
- Skype – this has been around for a while but it is still worthwhile, especially for seniors who have long distance family members around the globe. It is free to use and allows your senior to have a face to face video call with anyone via the internet. You can set up the group feature and talk with more than one person at a time.
- Pillboxie – this app, designed by a registered nurse, offers a reminder to your senior about when the next medication dosage is scheduled. It is relatively inexpensive and doesn’t require a network connection. The pills are listed by actual color and shape as well as name.
- Yesterday USA – Old Time Radio – this app is free and it gives your senior access to old time radio shows from decades past (1920s, 1930s, 1940s and 1050s).
- Kindle – one of our favorites! Download books that can be read in whatever size font your senior desires. Your senior can get the latest book title, get a loan from the library, share your own book purchases or just select free books from the Kindle store.
- Find My iPhone – a free app that helps you find a lost device. If your senior can’t quickly locate the missing device, it allows you to lock important data using another device to protect your senior’s personal information.
Hopefully this recap will give you some useful information that will help you help your senior loved one be safe using technology.
We believe using technology is so vital in this day and age that getting our seniors connected to it will keep them happy, social, safe and secure!