The BEST Device for Seniors to Access the Web & Social Media is…

There are many benefits for seniors in accessing social media and the web, but which device is the best one for that purpose out of the many options that are available (a number that is growing all the time)?  That question is one we hear frequently from both elder readers and their family members.  We have built our existing base of knowledge with some additional research and come up with the answer.

One thing that is important to keep in mind is that there is no one-size-fits-all. There is often an attempt to broadly call “seniors” a market segment but there are too many older adults with too broad a range of interests to be properly considered a single market whose needs can be met by any one device or group of devices.

In this episode we look at the criteria that are important in selecting the best device for seniors’ use, including:

  • How the device will be used;
  • Available access to the internet;
  • Capabilities of the individual(s) who will be using the device; and,
  • Local computing “support” available to the senior.

Using these criteria, including many factors in each category, we reached a conclusion and will share it with you.

One resource we’d like to share from this episode about photosensitivity and medications is an article by Dr. Oz from AARP The Magazine, “When the Sun Makes You Sick.”  With the extreme heat many are experiencing as this is recorded and posted, we think this is very timely.

We encourage and welcome any suggestions or other feedback you may have.  Please leave a comment on this post or via a note on our Contact page.  We would also love to have you leave a post on the wall of our Senior Care Corner Facebook page.  We are particularly interested in your suggestions for future podcast topics and guests, especially if you are interested in being interviewed for a future podcast episode!

Podcast transcript  (so you can follow along or read at your convenience)

Starring Soon on the Senior Care Corner Podcast — YOU!!

As many of you have discovered, we launched the Senior Care Corner Podcast a few months ago, with new episodes out biweekly.  If you haven’t heard one yet, you can check them out on Senior Care Corner or on iTunes.

Kathy and I see the podcast as great way to share some items that are too short for a blog post, such as our news items and quick tips, and others that we think benefit from a longer treatment or true discussion.  We have barely scratched the surface on the topics of interest to Seniors’ family members and caregivers and are committed to producing the podcast into the future.

We truly enjoy the podcast and look forward to recording each episode.  At the same time, we would like to share different voices and perspectives with the Senior Care Corner community.  Do you know someone with information or a story to share on the podcast? Maybe even you??

Who are we seeking as a podcast guest?

We are seeking – and welcoming – expressions of interest from those who would like to be interviewed by us as special guests for broadcast in an episode of the Senior Care Corner Podcast. Each interview would be in the 15 to 20 minute range, with only one guest appearing in each episode, so you’ll have the spotlight to yourself.

What are the qualifications for guests?

Our targeted guests have expertise in one of the topics we have covered in our blog or have other information of interest to family members and caregivers of seniors.  Topics that come to mind include finances, medical care, technology and lifestyle planning, just to name a few.  We are not looking to create a platform for an infomercial about your product or service but would certainly agree to reasonable promotion within the context of meeting the needs of seniors and/or their families and caregivers.

Another type of guest we think would be of real value to our community is someone with a family story to share that can benefit other families.  There is a lot that can be learned from the experiences of others!

How will we conduct guest interviews?

Our plan is to record interviews by Skype or phone in addition to live interviews with guests we meet (ideally pre-scheduled) at meetings such as the Consumer Electronics Show in January.  We will work out arrangements with each guest, including a time schedule convenient to you.

How can you express your interest?

There are a number of ways you can express your interest.  Our preference is for nominations written on the wall of our Senior Care Corner page on Facebook.  That will give us the ability to gauge our community’s interest through the number of  Likes your nomination receives.  If you prefer, you can leave a comment on this post or contact us privately via the contact page on Senior Care Corner.

When you express interest, and we hope a number of you will, we will contact you quickly.  Depending on the level of interest we perceive in your topic and your approach, we hope to complete scheduling in a timely manner.  It is currently our plan to have guests no more than once each month, but we’ll evaluate that based on the response we get.

So, will YOU be a star on the Senior Care Corner Podcast?  We hope to hear from you and welcome your comments and suggestions!

First Aid Kit Essentials for the Homes of Senior Loved Ones

We all know how important having a band-aid is when our kids’ knees are bleeding.

As family caregivers of seniors, we need to remain prepared for emergencies with our seniors as we did with our children.

Do you have a first aid kit? If you do, what is in it? Is it someplace where it can quickly be found when it is needed?

A first aid kit stored out of sight might not be quickly found in the panic after an injury, especially if it is a visiting friend or family member looking for it.

If you have kit already, go through it to make sure it has what might be needed. Has anyone checked it lately for expired items?  If you’re like us that is not done often enough.

Checklist – First Aid Kit for Seniors

There are several things we should have at hand in the case of any emergency in our seniors’ homes whether you, another loved one or a paid caregiver is present.

  • Gloves
  • Thermometer
  • Antiseptic ointment and wipes
  • Cold pack
  • Band-Aids in assorted sizes including knee and elbow sizes
  • Thermal patches
  • Medications: fever reducer, anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, calamine lotion and  hydrocortisone cream
  • Blanket
  • Gauze and tape
  • Hand sanitizer or soap
  • Tweezers, scissors, safety pins and needle
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Activated charcoal
  • Your senior’s list of medications including dosages and times
  • Phone numbers for emergency contact, doctor, pharmacy, poison control
  • Antibiotic lotion
  • Elastic wrap such as Ace brand
  • Cotton balls and swabs
  • Eye goggles and sterile eyewash
  • Plastic bag for disposable
  • Medical forms such as living will, DNR, or advance directives
  • If needed: blood pressure monitor, blood sugar meter and/or AED
  • First aid guide for reference

Store all items in a place that is easy to find and known to all caregivers or helpers in the home.

Make a plan to check the first aid kit regularly to discard and replace any expired items.

Being prepared will help your senior get the care they need just in case.

Did we miss anything you think should be added to the kit?  If so, please leave a comment to let us know!

Overcoming Seniors’ Technology Fears

Heard this one before:  “it’s too complicated for me” or maybe “I’ll get my grandchildren to explain it” coming from elderly family members or friends when dealing with electronic devices?  Regardless of the reason given, some (certainly not all) of our senior loved ones are avoiding the new technologies that can add to the quality of their – and even their families’ – lives out of fear.

At Senior Care Corner we’ve heard similar refrains lately from seniors.  Some know their computers are out of date and are frustrated from sloooowwww speeds or really want to get wireless capability, but are convinced changing to a new one would be much more trouble than its worth.  Another just the other day mentioned having purchased a new printer we encouraged but has it put aside out of fear for the complexity of the setup.

Devices Becoming Less Complex

Yes, in the past many (okay, most) devices were complex and required complicated setup, but the situation has changed – don’t let the salesperson at the big box store tell you otherwise in an effort to sell you services! Most computers are usable when you pull them out of the box and moving files is easier than ever.  Printers that once came with setup disks are now plug-n-play, meaning functional right out of the box.  Heck, we’ve found the most difficult aspect of setting up a new printer to be finding all the tape they put on it to keep things closed – like finding all the pins in a new shirt!

Some key technology activities still have degrees of complexity, such as setting up a wireless network in the home, but even most of those are MUCH easier than in the past.  Companies have learned that sales are better when people don’t fear the product.  Maybe even more importantly for the companies, they have also learned that providing products that are more customer friendly greatly reduces their customer service cost – and improves customer satisfaction.

Helping Seniors Overcome Fear

What’s the answer for our seniors?  For most of us, overcoming a fear requires a “show me” moment, a demonstration that things are better than last time we tried it.  For technology that might mean helping your elder loved one pick out the new computer based on desired functions and then starting it up together.  That has an added benefit of doing something together.  Another hint – if you start it up together it is easier to answer those phone calls and emails asking for support later (true whether a senior living at a distance or college student living on campus, as we’ve learned).

Don’t Forget Service Needs

Another key may be to make sure that technology items in our senior loved ones’ homes are either easily self-serviced or you arrange for accessible service, maybe a nearby friend or family member.  It also pays to have the same software versions on their device(s) as you have on yours, which makes it easier to step through questions over the phone.

When (not if) things go wrong with devices, the last thing we want is for them to sit unusable.  Our loved ones are no longer getting the benefits they derive from the devices and may be replacing those benefits with that technology fear – which is often harder to overcome a second time.

It is becoming more important and more beneficial every day to get our senior loved ones of all ages connected to us and the world via the internet and social media.  Let’s make sure fear of the technologies they need are not keep them disconnected!

Please share your comments and stories to help us all learn!

Challenges for Family Caregivers Feeding Seniors with Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease presents many challenges to family members and other caregivers of seniors.  Key among those is making sure our senior loved ones continue to get the nutrition they need through the food they eat.

The feature segment in this episode of the Senior Care Corner Podcast addresses those challenges are offers suggestions to help make mealtime successful for those with Alzheimer’s. There are steps family caregivers can take to assure needs are met.

Sometimes our elder loved ones with Alzheimer’s may:

  • lose interest in eating;
  • lack a feeling of hunger;
  • lose the connection of the utensil in their hand with the task of eating;
  • fail to link the existence of food in their mouth with the acts of chewing and swallowing; and,
  • have trouble focusing their attention on dining.

When this happens it can be extremely frustrating for you as a caregiver, especially as a family member living at a distance, and lead to a feeling of helplessness, especially as you watch your loved one losing weight and strength.

In our feature segment for this episode we will give you tips and suggestions to help make mealtime important for your elder loved one and help you maintain habits and activities to make dining better for both seniors and their loved ones.

Also in this episode, news items of interest to families and caregivers of seniors plus a caregiving quick tip.

Helpful links for this episode of Senior Care Corner:

We hope you enjoy this episode and will join us next time when we gather for a chat at the Corner.

Please let us a comment below if you have feedback, questions or suggestions for us.

We are especially interested in learning about an approach you have found to be beneficial with your loved one who has Alzheimer’s. Help us all to learn from your experience!

Podcast Transcript – so you can follow along or read at your convenience

Priceless Family Reminiscing with Seniors

Reminiscing is the recollection and retelling of stories from past experiences and events.  For seniors, it is important to recollect these experiences to affirm who they are and what their life has meant, not to mention the benefits gained from recalling pleasant memories.

Sharing reminisces provides an opportunity for the senior to be mentally stimulated and pull from their intact memories, helping keep those memories alive.  For children, grandchildren and other caregivers, it is priceless to listen to these remembrances and may help improve your ability to care for your senior in the future when you have had this chance to understand them more thoroughly through their life stories.

How Do You Start the Conversation?

Ask open ended questions that will begin the dialogue and then take it from there.

  • Where did you live during the depression?
  • Where were you doing when the first man landed on the moon or when the space shuttle lifted off?
  • Who were you with when you heard that President Kennedy was killed?
  • Tell me about your first job, your first bike, your first vacation?
  • What states, countries, and continents have you visited?

These and other questions will begin a dialogue between you and your senior loved one that will give them purpose and bring you joy in the retelling.  What other questions could you ask that would give you answers you want to hear?

Triggers that Improve the Memories of Seniors

Often certain questions or topics will increase the ability to reminisce for seniors.  Ideas that stimulate their five senses can open up their memories.  Talking about tastes such as their favorite foods, summer treats or holiday cookies will bring smiles to everyone’s face.  The sense of smell such as what odor can you tell a story about-dirty socks from their brother, candles at church, sulfur in the well water or the smell of firework sparklers on the 4th of July should cause your senior to share memories.  Sounds such as their baby’s first cry or the siren at the fire station and sights such as buildings in their travels or pictures of their family members will also bring back memories to create stories.

Capturing your Senior’s Memories for the Future

Spending time with your senior, reminiscing about experiences and moments in time gone by can be chronicled by you to share with other family members, friends and future generations.  You can create a videography during the storytelling or journal their stories over time to create a family book of memories.  This type of precious creation combined with a family tree will be treasured forever.

Benefits of Reminiscing for the Caregiver

Life as a caregiver, especially with someone struggling with dementia, can be isolating.  Loneliness is common even when you spend every day with another person who is no longer the person they used to be or able to communicate as they once did.  Reminiscing and storytelling can open a path to communication with the person you care for and at the same time give meaning to their life.  It can relieve boredom for both you and the one for whom you care.

Be sure to listen attentively no matter what story they tell or if they get lost in the middle.  You can ask questions to allow the senior to keep their memories flowing.  Remembering can tap into details that are still remembered for the senior who can’t remember what they ate for breakfast or if they ate breakfast at all.  It lets them think back to a time when they were active and vibrant and happy.  You might be surprised at what you will learn that you did not know previously.

To learn more about how to tackle this with your senior, we suggest downloading The Benevolent Society’s Reminiscing Handbook.

We look forward to hearing how you engaged your senior in a tale of reminiscing.  How did you start the story?

 Here are a few things we’ve found helpful in reminiscing, with affiliate links to Amazon.com for more info & purchase:

 

5 Benefits of Social Media for Seniors – Let’s Help Them Get Online!

Too old for social media?

Don’t let anyone tell you – or your senior loved one – that, because it’s not possible!

Growing numbers of older adults are proving that every day.

Survey after survey reflects more senior Americans, including those in the most elderly groups, participating in social media.

That being said, their numbers still lag behind other age groups.

Seniors are jumping on board Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more as they realize it is fun and provides real benefits.

Are your senior loved ones participating?  We can think of several reasons for them to do so, especially for those living on their own (aging-in-place), but there are benefits for those in senior care or living facilities as well.

5 Benefits of Social Media for Seniors (and Family Caregivers)

(1) Social Media Keeps Families Close

“I wish I heard more often from my children/grandchildren” is a common refrain of seniors.

You’d think that with seemingly everyone carrying their own phone, calls to senior loved ones would be more common than ever. However, those phones are used less for making phone calls than for connecting by other means, particularly social media.

More and more seniors are realizing that going where their family members are going, most frequently Facebook, makes it easier to link up and keep up with what is going on in the lives of loved ones. It also makes for more frequent and comfortable conversations (or “convos”) between generations than most would experience if the phones were used simply for calls.

So, yes, the first reason social media is for seniors is to stay closer to family.

(2) Family Social Photo and Video Sharing

With the overwhelming majority of photographs now digital, sharing of memories is now easier than ever through social media. Increasingly, pictures are shared every day by users of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other social media sites.

Grandparents can go online now and see pictures taken just moments before by their grandchildren, creating a feeling of closeness that was never possible with mailed photos.

Home movies have always brought family memories to life even more than photos, but video sharing took effort and saw delays, even with video cameras and VCRs. With many phones now coming with a video camera, even more videos are being taken by family members and, like pictures, being quickly posted online.

Seniors are now getting fresh “home movies” on YouTube, Facebook and other sites.

Yes, some of those videos are not always activities you want to think of your grandchildren as doing, but that is their life — even more so than the snippets Mom or Dad might have captured in the past with their movie cameras.

(3) Online Coupons & Other Discounts

Everyone likes saving money, not just seniors, though for many older Americans on fixed incomes getting a deal is essential and not just a fun thing to do.

Social media provides access to many opportunities to save money, whether we’re seeking discount offerings by companies on their Facebook pages, coupons shared between Twitter users, or the deals offered in many communities on Groupon and like sites, just to name a few.

Not only can going social be fun for our senior loved ones, but profitable as well!

(4) Family Peace of Mind

Seniors and their families often live far apart today, which can lead to anxiety on both sides, particularly when the elder family members are living on their own.

We have all heard — and too many have even experienced — stories of senior family members falling in their homes, missing critical prescription drugs, or going without eating for days, all without anyone knowing until it became a serious problem.

Social media gives seniors and their family caregivers a convenient way to check in daily, or on whatever frequency is desired, creating peace of mind on both ends of the communications.

(5) Community Engagement and Belonging

The importance of socializing as part of a community cannot be overstated, particularly for seniors spending much of their time living isolated at home. It can be critical for those unable to get out of the house to be with others.

Social media provides the opportunity to have and be a friend, to congregate without leaving the house, to never be alone, even when you are the only one in the house.

Just Scratching the Surface

There are even more reasons if those five are not enough for you to get your senior loved ones engaged with social networks and the world available to them there.

What are YOUR reasons for being on social media, if you are? If you’re not, you might just find there are benefits for you as well as your loved ones!

Have we missed any social media benefits you and your senior loved one have shared, or you if you are a senior yourself? We’d love to hear what you think.

By the way, speaking of social media, you can find us on Twitter — @SrCareCorner for Kathy and @BarryBirkett for Barry — and  and on Facebook at SeniorCareCorner. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and “Like” our Facebook page to keep up with our latest updates.  Of course, you can also sign up for email updates or our RSS feed.

So many ways to keep in touch — hopefully we have one that meets your needs. If not, please let us know!

Let’s keep helping our senior loved ones get connected, too!




Seniors (& the Rest of Us) Need a Will

Most people, possibly including your senior loved ones, should have a will written to let everyone know what their intentions are for their belongings and assets. Do you know if your senior has created this document, what might be included, who will be responsible when the time comes, and where it is being kept?

You might be surprised to know that two out of five people over the age of 45 have not prepared a will or done any estate planning.  This is often a task that we don’t want to face.  We don’t want to think about our life coming to an end, as if planning for it will somehow make it happen faster.  Sometimes there may be disagreements in the family about what should be done and, in order to avoid these disagreements, the task goes undone.

Dying without a will may leave your possessions to be dispersed by a stranger working under the laws of your state without knowledge of your desires and your family, whose input may or may not be considered, could be powerless against the decisions made by the appointed administrator.

Who Needs a Will?

Therefore, writing a will is something that everyone should do — putting wishes onto paper for everyone to know and follow will actually make it easier for our survivors in the long run.  Your senior should be guided to create his or her will if it has not been done already and if she/he is still competent to execute one.  (If they are not competent legally but can still tell you their thoughts, write down who they want to give their favorite things to before it is too late.)

Will Considerations

Things to consider when assisting your senior to write his or her will:

  • Name the person your senior wants to handle his or her affairs: this is known as the executor.  This trusted person will be sure your senior’s wishes are upheld.  An executor can be responsible for paying your bills and handling any debt collectors.
  • Name the people to whom your senior wants each of his or her possessions to be given including things like house, car, hand made blankets, china, jewelry, photographs and any items your senior wants someone to have.  These people are called beneficiaries.
  • Your senior may want to execute any other directives at this time such as a living will if he or she has not already done this.
  • It is usually best to have separate wills and not combine with a spouse.
  • A witness will be needed who is not a beneficiary.  Some states may require two witnesses.   Some states also require wills to be notarized.
  • Store the original will in a safe place that is accessible to others besides just your senior, otherwise a court order might be needed to get it from a safe deposit box or other private place. The lawyer can keep a signed copy in case of emergency, but the original will still be required.
  • Update the will whenever a change occurs such as death of a spouse, divorce, relocation, retirement, remarriage, death of executor/beneficiary, or when new family members need to be added such as grandchildren or great-grandchildren.

Completing a Will

Wills and Living Wills are legal documents.  Some people use the services of a lawyer while others choose to prepare their own.  One potential middle ground is to utilize the services of a firm such as Legal Zoom, which is not a law firm but can guide you through the preparation process.  The links below will take you to the Legal Zoom site for more information and, if you choose, the opportunity to utilize their services.

One final thought for you as the caregiver:  Before you assist your senior with his or her will, create your own!  It is important that you have made specific instructions for how your senior will be cared for after you are no longer able to be there.  Your senior’s safety and security should be spelled out.

We encourage you to share your experiences with us and our readers.

Key Financial Issues for Seniors and Their Family Caregivers

Seniors — and the loved ones who care for and about them — face many financial issues once retired and as they age, though much less is written and said about those issues than saving for retirement. Many family members find themselves needing or asked to get involved, which can be difficult when it turns their traditional relationships upside down.

Whether seniors are aging in place at home, or are in an elder care living arrangement such as an assisted living facility or nursing home, managing and holding onto their finances can be a challenge.  This is especially true for those seniors who are facing dementia or Alzheimer’s.

In this episode we touch on several of the financial issues associated with aging loved ones and provide some tips for family members.

Topics we address in this episode include:

  • Bank accounts, including checking & savings accounts, loans and credit cards;
  • Challenges presented by legitimate charitable requests and scams;
  • Insurance policies, especially the importance of keeping payments current;
  • Wills, including the importance for both the seniors and those family members who are caregivers; and,
  • Reverse mortgages.

Also discussed in this episode:

  • Alzheimer’s progression: the two ways the disease progresses and what each means;
  • Advances in automobile dashboard layouts to be more visible as eyesight is reduced; and,
  • Skin aging as a reflection of brain aging.

Link mentioned in the episode

Please let us know if you have comments, questions or suggestions!