Preventing Malnutrition in Seniors — Family Caregiver Quick Tip

Caregivers of seniors are often concerned with the vulnerability of their family members to developing malnutrition as they age and their intakes begin to decline.

Malnutrition in our seniors is estimated to affect one in four older adults.

Not eating right can affect the ability of our seniors to remain independent.

Poor eating habits can affect them physically and mentally, causing loss of muscle strength, improper balance, increased falls, difficulty driving, weight loss, and confusion.

Tips to Increase Food Intake

The American Academy of Family Physicians offers these tips for family caregivers:

  1. Provide plenty of healthy foods and snacks; keep the foods accessible
  2. Flavor foods with fresh herbs and spices avoiding salt
  3. Offer prepackaged supplements when meals are refused or taken poorly
  4. Promote daily exercise, even a little bit throughout the day, to help stimulate appetite and keep muscles strong
  5. Plans social engagements centered around eating and exercise

Hopefully these reminders will give your senior a boost in his or her health!

Additional Resources

Here are some other articles that might provide more information you will find helpful:

Buying a New Car – Considerations for Seniors (and the Rest of Us)

The safer the car, the safer the driver — and passengers — can be. It’s a concept that makes a great deal of sense.

While an important consideration when thinking about vehicles for family members of all ages, this is especially important for the car driven by an aging parent or other loved one who we fear may have lessened driving skills or reflexes.

A safe car could be a new car or maybe the same one your senior loved one has had for some time and kept well maintained.

However, many older cars lack safety features found in the newer cars we take for granted today.

Considerations When Buying a New Car for Senior Loved Ones

Our seniors may be brand loyal when it comes to their vehicles. However, much has changed over the years about manufacturers and the cars they produce.

The lifelong favorite brands of some are no longer being sold.

Encourage your senior to look beyond the exterior of a car or at the particular model / manufacturer they have used for years. Some models have been revised significantly or been eliminated while there are many new models.

In addition there have been many innovations your senior might want to factor into his selection.

Think beyond appearance and color to reliability, safety features, reputation, convenience of the dealership, ability to get repairs easily, performance, price and comfort.

Come to think of it, those are probably the same things we all consider when buying our own cars.

Seniors should consider those items but these as well:

  • Review safety ratings and crash tests for all cars your senior is considering. This information is free online or in print. Not all cars are tested in each model year. You can read the Department of Transportation’s safety ratings in print from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety publication or online at iihs.org.
  • Be sure your senior has clear visibility when seated behind the wheel. Can they adjust the seat to get a clear view? Can they see all mirrors? Are there blind spots that could be unsafe?
  • Can your senior get in and out of the car without trouble? Is there space enough to maneuver especially with decreased mobility? Can the height of the seat be changed to allow better access? Can the head rest be positioned at the appropriate height to provide support especially during an accident? Does the type of fabric on the seat let your senior slide in and out and get into the correct position?
  • Can he or she reach the gas and brake pedals easily without confusion about which is which and push on them without straining?
  • Is the seat belt easy to use, fit correctly and is the release button easy to reach? Does the seat belt hurt?
  • Where are the airbags located especially on the steering wheel? Will it deploy on the torso or right into the face of your senior with 10″ of space from the wheel to your senior’s chest? Be sure they don’t need to move the seat so far forward to reach the pedals that the airbag now becomes dangerous during deployment.
  • Are the devices such as wipers and headlights easy to reach, manipulate and can your senior operate them if fingers are arthritic?
  • Can your senior read the controls — are they large enough and sufficiently back lit?
  • Does the engine have enough power to meet their driving needs but not so much they may easily lose control?
  • Is there adequate storage if a mobility device or medical equipment is needed to be transported for the driver or a passenger?
  • Many cars are equipped with safety devices which may confuse drivers unfamiliar with them, such as back up camera, voice controlled features, rear windshield wipers, and warning alerts, and should possibly be disabled (or not installed) if this will decrease safety for your senior.

Maintaining Your Senior’s Car for Safety

Whether it has a few years on it or it is brand new, we need to be sure our senior loved ones keep their vehicles well maintained for a safe ride.

Always be sure to follow the owner’s manual directions for checkup guidelines to maintain or service a particular vehicle.

In some cases, you may want to drive your senior’s car occasionally to assess it yourself to ensure your loved ones and their passengers are safe. Listening to new sounds and trying out the features to be sure they are properly functioning is a necessary step.

There are a number of items that should be checked frequently.

  1. Maintain wiper blades replacing when they begin smearing during operation.
  2. Have the brakes checked regularly for signs of wear.
  3. Be alert for unusual sounds or a softening in the brakes when your senior drives or in your periodic assessment drives.
  4. Check the tire pressure and inflate them according to guidelines.
  5. Check the tires monthly for tread wear and replace as needed.
  6. Keep the car windows clean inside and out to keep the view clear. Don’t forget to clean all mirrors of dust and film buildup.
  7. Check the gauges for proper functioning so your senior is driving the correct speed and will not run out of gas in the middle of nowhere.

Help Maintain Independence Longer

Driving gives your senior, and all of us, a sense of – and actual – independence.

Our seniors wish to drive as long as they possibly can.

Keeping their current car well maintained or purchasing a new model will help them and their passengers feel more confidant on the road.

Here are some books you might consider. Both books, and many others of interest to family caregivers, can be found in the Senior Care Corner Bookstore, powered by Amazon.com.

Remember, safe driving is not a function of age itself, as drivers of all ages vary in skill level. However, aging drivers may see skills deteriorate with reduced sight and mobility that often comes with age.

Helping them to keep their car in good working condition or purchasing a newer model with more safety features could help keep them safe on the road longer.

Clinical Trials Teach Us More About Alzheimer’s – How You Can Help

Participate in a clinical trial — me??

Some of us shy away from participating in clinical trials because we are not sure about what they will do or if they involve a great time commitment.

Most of the time we ignore pleas to join a clinical trial, no matter who might suggest it, because we simply don’t know much about the subject.

We can be asked to consider clinical trials from our doctors, healthcare professionals, family friends or by the trial organizer via the internet or social media.

Trials to investigate disease and how best to find a cure have been used since 1747 when James Lind conducted the first clinical trial to help treat scurvy.

International Clinical Trial Day is celebrated on May 20 in his honor.

What are Clinical Trials and Their Benefits?

Clinical trials are research conducted on people (once lab and animal studies are completed) used to find new ways to diagnose, treat, slow or even cure a disease. Many advances occur as a result of clinical trials.

Controlled clinical trials help get new treatments and medications to the market to help those suffering from a particular disease. This disease could be widespread like Alzheimer’s disease or a so-called orphan disease with few people affected.

Clinical trials are needed to be sure a new treatment is effective because the Food and Drug Administration requires proof that a drug actually does what the manufacturer says it does.

Some clinical trials are used not to determine if a drug will be effective but instead what dose is needed to get the maximum benefit without side effects. They already know the therapy will work but need to establish the appropriate dose.

It can be difficult for a new medication to move from the clinical trial phase to practice so that it can provide relief and be assured to be safe and effective.

It is expected that those involved in a clinical trial represent a diverse population including that person who is actually diagnosed with the disease intended to be treated by the trial treatment. More can be learned about how a drug or other therapy performs when different people are included.

Active in Your Own Healthcare

Participating in a clinical trial gives the participant the opportunity to take advantage of a new therapy before treatments are available to the public and also help others eventually be treated as well. Being a part of a clinical trial allows you to be an active member of your own healthcare.

75% of clinical trial volunteers said that the main reason they participated in a trial study was to help themselves and others and to advance science.

You can always learn about the trial and what participation entails before you agree to join one. There are rules that govern trials including being told whether a placebo will be used.

Here are a few potential ways you can support clinical trials.

Alzheimer’s Trial Match

The Alzheimer’s Association has a free matching service that will connect a clinical trial that is suitable with people with Alzheimer’s disease, caregivers, healthy volunteers and physicians.

Clinical trials that are designed specifically for those with Alzheimer’s disease are occurring across the country every day.

With your help, the course of Alzheimer’s disease could be changed improving the lives of caregivers as well as those with dementia.

You can learn more and create your own profile here.

Trial Reach and Cure Click

These two entities are working to help people discover and connect to clinical trials that might be right for you.

They are web based just like the Alzheimer’s Trial Match program and are the conduit that provides information to people that will help the researchers find participants.

They work to inform people about the possibilities of clinical research to people who may otherwise not be aware that they could get help and give help to others through their participation.

Using social media and weblinks to trials and screening questionnaires, they make it easier to get people to the appropriate trial without having to spend precious time in search of a way to get connected.

Their goal is to match the right person to the right clinical trial.

Many people want to help but don’t really know how to access trials and these two companies bridge that gap. They strive to help educate us all about clinical trials by providing information and an easy way to learn more and get started in a trial that is right for you.

How Can You or Someone You Know Get Involved

It is important to learn about clinical trials in general as you are doing now.

The next step is to become aware of where and how to learn about clinical trials accepting participants. You can do this through a variety of different avenues online such as a few we have described here.

Each trial has specific eligibility requirements to be sure you or your loved one is the right match to the selected trial. They will match you based on your responses to online questionnaire or screening.

Each trial will provide you with information and an informed consent that will help you fully understand the trial and, once they accept you, if you wish to proceed.

Some people are compensated for participating in a clinical trial and get additional medical care above the usual preventive care your insurance allows at no cost to you.

Benefits and Risks

There are many benefits of participation in a clinical trial but also some risks of which to be aware. You may receive a placebo or the medication itself may be ineffective. There may be side effects to the therapy that may be unpleasant.

A particular trial may involve more time than a current treatment, involve travel to a site or even a hospital stay for monitoring. These things would all be explained before you agreed to participate.

You are a volunteer and can withdraw from the trial at any time.

 

You don’t have to have a disease or condition to join a clinical research trial.

Healthy people help trials looking to learn about disease prevention and caregivers can help show the impact of their caregiving on health.

We all have something to offer in a clinical trial setting and can help others as we help ourselves!

Medication Safety is No Accident – Family Caregiver Quick Tip

Each day more than 87 people die and over 2200 are treated in emergency rooms for poisoning, most in the home.

Managing medications is a crucial issue for the safety of seniors.

The American Society of Consultant Pharmacists report that “adverse drug reactions are among the top five greatest threats to the health of seniors“.

They also state that:

  • Adverse drug reactions and noncompliance are responsible for 28% of hospitalizations of the elderly
  • 36% of all reported adverse drug reactions involve an elderly individual
  • Each year 32,000 seniors suffer hip fractures caused by a medication-related problem

With many seniors taking multiple prescriptions plus over the counter medicine, there are many opportunities for accidents to happen.

8 Tips for Safe Medication Use

Here are some tips from the American Association of Poison Control Centers to follow to help keep your senior safe.

  1. Ensure they take only prescription medications that are prescribed for them by their healthcare professional.
  2. Always follow the instructions, don’t take more or less dosage or more frequent doses of prescription medications, especially those intended for pain management.
  3. Don’t share or sell prescription drugs. A medication that is right for one person may have severe consequences for another, even if they have the same condition.
  4. Be aware of the warnings on the labels and follow the precautions listed, such as directions to take with food, a warning the drug may cause drowsiness, or instruction to store the in the refrigerator.
  5. Discard medications, both prescription and over the counter, according to their expiration dates.
  6. Keep medicines in their original containers, out of reach of children.
  7. Participate in the National Drug Take Back Days in the local community.
  8. Follow federal guidelines disposal of unused, unneeded or expired prescription drugs.

If a poisoning occurs, it is important to remain calm.

If your senior has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911.

If your senior is awake and alert dial 1-800-222-1222 for the poison control center and receive instructions from them about what action is needed.

Additional Resources

Here is more information from the Food and Drug Administration for Medications and Seniors.

In addition to the FDA, you might find these articles and a family caregiver video to be helpful:

Letters to Grandma 2.0 – Connecting for a New Generation via Tech

Ask most older adults if they would like to connect more often with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

That sound you hear is a resounding “YES”!

Of course, not hearing from the kids and grandkids has been a complaint voiced by many for generations, with children of all ages finding it difficult to put pen to paper and write letters to their grandparents.

In this day and age, it seems pen and paper notes are gone forever. Thankfully, there is another option.

Technology has made it much easier for seniors to keep up with their family members, whether through direct communications or other means.

Connecting Through Technology

Technology has filled the gap left by the old ways people once used for communication like pen and paper.

A high percentage of seniors now have their own email accounts and many the ability to text message on their phones, two of the primary ways younger generations choose to interact.

Many more can connect with apps and social media.

Almost two generations already have lived their entire lives in a world that includes personal computers and text messaging smartphones. They don’t know another way of life.

Their devices carry much more computing power than the first several generations of personal computers their parents found fascinating.

Where writing letters to anyone was not high on the list for most children in the age of technology, sending text messages and emails are their primary means of communication.

New Generations of Connections

Younger people are connecting with senior loved ones through technology, not only via text messaging and emailing but also social media.

Facebook, Twitter and numerous other sites make it easy to keep up with what many friends and loved ones are doing and even carry on two-way communications.

Another very popular way for seniors to connect with the grandkids and great grands is through FaceTime on their iPhone or iPad.

Sure, you might be saying, but what about the technology, devices and the training that our seniors need to be engaged?

Evolution of Technology for Connecting

The continuing evolution of computing technology has been a major contributor to the prevalence of social media, but that evolution is moving in the direction of smaller and smaller devices.

These innovations do not lend social media to the ready access for those with eyesight that is not what it once was or fingers that were more nimble in past days.

However, more recent developments are bringing social media access to larger and larger devices and touchscreens that are easier to manipulate.

Video gaming systems, DVRs (Tivo for example), and even many newer smart televisions come with access to Facebook and other sites.

Tablet computing and larger touch screens (have you seen the HUGE touch screens on shows like NCIS?) are making social media sites accessible without even the need to use a keyboard or manipulate a mouse.

Getting Them Started

Is your senior loved one connected with technology that enables them to communicate with their younger family members? If not here are a few things you can do to get them started.

  • Get (or teach them to use) a tablet or smartphone that will be compatible with those in the family they wish to connect or with which they can use Skype or other communications application
  • Be sure their device has all the apps they need installed, such as Facebook or Twitter, and setup for their use
  • Set up an email account for them, if they don’t use email already, and train them to use it safely and securely
  • Create a Facebook identify with the appropriate security settings for their use
  • Show them how to use FaceTime and tell everyone to give them a call!
  • Set up a private Facebook page for the family members so that the images and sharing will be better protected
  • Designate one of the younger family members (grand- or great-grandchild) to be their troubleshooter when they need help; this provides additional closeness benefits for both
  • Set up and show them how they can send text messages on their tablet, which they may find easier to manipulate than the smaller keyboard on a smartphone
  • Upgrade their TV set to a smart TV (potential Mother’s or Father’s Day gift?) and set up their favorites on it then show them how to access all its connectivity features

Remember, this is not a ‘set it and forget it’ situation. You may want to continue checking in with your senior loved one periodically to ensure everything is working properly and they are comfortable using what you’ve set in place.

Of course, if everyone is using the technology to connect, the lines of communication should be wide open already.

Aging Secrets of Centenarians and Longevity Assists from Innovation

There are not only many more people living longer but also innovations that will allow us to further extend life expectancy.

As of 2013, U.S. life expectancy sits at 76.4 years for males and 81.2 years for females.

We are living better, taking better care of ourselves, staying engaged with the world around us, and taking advantage of the advances that have improved our health.

Here are a few of the medical breakthroughs projected to be available soon that can further improve our longevity and help seniors age more healthfully.

Upcoming Medical Innovations for Longevity

The medicine and healthcare fields have seen many lifesaving and life extending advancements since the current centenarians were born.

This group has benefited from polio vaccines, antibiotics, heart surgery, cholesterol lowering medications, improved treatment and prevention of childhood diseases, improved practices of maternal health and birthing, vaccinations for many diseases, and standards of care improvements, including hand washing and sterilization of medical equipment.

All of these practices have improved lives and increased life expectancy.

These are some of the latest innovations that could continue to aid our longevity:

  • Genetic testing to target treatment, diet, medications and other health indicators specifically to each individual. Using this genetic testing to modify DNA to cut out harmful genes that lead to disease, a modified DNA strand could act as an immune fighting cell to fight the disease.
  • Busting brain clots during a stroke with the use of a wire with a mesh-like tip that grabs the clot from the artery. While clot busting drugs can help some, this device could help many more.
  • Robotic limbs for amputees that are controlled by implants in the brain at the location that controls the intention to move not just the movement itself. This improvement will let the person guide the new limb more fluidly.
  • Immunotherapy cancer vaccines to fight cancer without harming healthy cells.
  • Wearable sensors that don’t just monitor steps but also help monitor chronic disease conditions to better control them. They will take the form of special clothing and stick on sensors in addition to the current fitness bands.
  • Large scale, speedy vaccines in the face of widespread epidemics similar to Ebola. Accelerated processes to create and distribute vaccines to protect the public health. In addition, unraveling the superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics and identifying them in an individual quicker for better treatment.

These and many other innovations utilizing the latest technology and collaboration across the globe among researchers and organizations will lead to improved care for all of us.

Causes of Death After Age 100 – New Information

The number of centenarians continues to grow, as does our fascination about what they are doing to keep themselves healthy as they reach 100 years old and beyond.

While we want to live long, healthy and happy lives, we aren’t quite sure we can make it to 100 and more years and still age successfully.

Those who have become centenarians have much to teach us and our senior loved ones about healthy living.

A new report by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics revealed a few more facts about centenarians recently.

The CDC found that the number of those who are 100 or more has grown in 2014 to 72,197 up from 50,281 in 2000. Not surprisingly, women comprised 80% of centenarians.

There are many reasons more and more people are living to be 100, including improvements in medical care beginning in the 1900s, especially advances in infectious disease prevention and treatment.

We also have to look toward genetics (you can’t pick your family right?) and lifestyle, including eating well and being physically active.

Top 5 Causes of Death Among Centenarians

  1. Heart disease
  2. Alzheimer’s disease
  3. Stroke
  4. Cancer
  5. Influenza and pneumonia

The numbers of centenarians who die from Alzheimer’s disease increased markedly.

It is interesting however that about 40% of centenarians do not get Alzheimer’s at all.

For many of these older seniors, cognitive function remains fairly well intact and any signs of dementia are delayed compared to the rest of the population.

Advice from Centenarians

Most people who are 100 or more years old, even those super-centenarians who are 110 or older, when asked will tell you they have no secret to longevity.

Here are some common denominators among centenarians:

  • They say they lived their life as best they could
  • Many never smoked or drank, they get a good night’s sleep and they never shied away from living
  • Many take few, if any, prescription medications
  • Most have held a positive attitude and remained optimistic throughout their lives
  • Worked hard and were lifelong learners
  • Held family and personal connections dear and remained socially engaged
  • More than 90% are disability free and living independently

There are an estimated 300 supercentenarians worldwide.

How Science is Battling Aging

There’s nothing certain but death and taxes…(ba duh boom).

That is a joke but has a basis in truth. Can science change that?

Age is a primary risk factor for most diseases. Are we treating these chronic diseases the right way? Science hopes to answer that question.

Here are some scientific findings that may impact how we treat chronic disease in the future as well as prevention tips.

  1. Gut health – there are normal and healthy bacteria in our gastrointestinal tracts, but when that bacteria moves out of the GI tract into other tissues of the body it causes infections and it can hurt the immune system, cognition and muscle tissue integrity. Antibiotics can kill both good and bad bacteria in our guts.
  2. Telomeres – shortening over our lifetimes, these structures impact age related declines in health. The amount of shortening is influenced largely by genetics but also our lifestyle habits, such as diet, exercise, stress and our environment. Affecting the amount of an enzyme, called telomerase, that builds telomeres could help but more study is needed to determine if it could be harmful.
  3. Stem cells – as we age, our stem cell production declines. These cells are important because they can replicate and rebuild whatever tissue needs help. Our diet and environment can damage stem cells as can sun exposure.
  4. Mitochondria – inside most cells and important for its functioning, mitochondria make energy. When it breaks down it affects the entire body, not just the individual cell. If seems this damage can be repaired but that doesn’t appear at this time to reverse its effect on aging.

Whether or not these scientific findings will result in changes in how we age, prevent disease or live healthfully remains to be seen.

It is amazing however how science discovery impacts our health and well-being.

As always, we will keep you informed about actions you and your senior loved one can take to improve your health.

For now as we and other sources say – eat right, get a good night’s sleep, get plenty of exercise, stop smoking, reduce your stress and engage with others to keep your senior’s and your own brain sharp.

Helping Seniors with Alzheimer’s Eat More – Family Caregiver Quick Tip

Family caregivers worry about our senior loved ones getting enough to eat to maintain their strength and health but when Alzheimer’s disease begins to progress, getting them to eat becomes a struggle.

As seniors’ dementia progresses, they may resist eating, forget they have not yet eaten, or forget how to eat.

When helping a senior loved one eat more becomes one of the family caregivers’ roles, there are a number of ways to approach the situation.

Adjustments to Encourage Eating

Here are some tips for caregivers trying to help seniors eat more.

  1. Make the dining atmosphere calm. Restrict distractions, loud noises, or scary TV news. Seat the person with their back to a window or room so that won’t look around or lose their focus.
  2. Eat with them. When the person feels alone it inhibits their intake. Let them observe your role modeling, they usually eat more.
  3. Use brightly colored plates to stimulate their appetite but not colorful, patterned placemats and tablecloths that can be a distraction. Familiar food smells can also increase appetite through memory.
  4. Don’t overwhelm them with too much food. Place a small amount of different foods in small bowls to keep them focused on their food. Finger foods also work well when utensils become confusing.
  5. Give frequent small meals especially if they can’t sit for long enough periods of time so that they will get more to eat by the end of day. Also offer finger foods throughout the day if they are pacing so they can replenish the spent calories they used in wandering.

There are many more things you can do to help them eat more, so keep trying new things until you find some strategies that work for you both.

Additional Discussion

Here are a few articles with more information to help improve your senior’s nutrition:

Fighting Senior Foodborne Illness with Food Safety Practices at Home

Food safety has become a real concern for all of us, especially our senior loved ones.

Pathogens, including bacteria and viruses, can be present in the foods we choose and lead to foodborne illness.

Another term for foodborne illness is food poisoning, which can be even more dangerous for older adults.

Often aging in place seniors put themselves at risk through their food safety practices.

Prevalence of Foodborne Illness

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

48 million persons get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne infection and illness in the United States each year. Many of these people are children, older adults, or have weakened immune systems and may not be able to fight infection normally.

We learn almost daily about the latest food that has been recalled because of bacterial contamination.

People have become sick with food poisoning after eating ice cream, nuts, lettuce, spinach, restaurant food and even the food that is prepared in their own homes.

Seniors are at heightened risk from food contamination and foodborne illness.

Seniors At Risk

Many seniors have cooked their entire lives and know their way around the kitchen.

As we age our immune systems slow down, which can put us at risk for getting sick from contaminated foods. At times, multiple medications can also inhibit the immune system, leaving our senior loved ones at increased risk for food poisoning.

Older adults often slow down physically, tire easily and have poorer vision which can affect how their bodies handle food.

Seniors’ stomachs and intestinal tracts may hold on to foods longer than when they were younger, their liver and kidneys may not clear toxins from their bodies as effectively as in the past and their sense of taste or smell may be altered leading them to consume foods that are spoiled.

Seniors who get sick from contaminated foods can take longer to recover, get admitted to the hospital and many even die from foodborne illnesses.

Tips to Prevent Food Poisoning At Home

Sometimes improper food handling can lead to foodborne illness.

There are a few areas about which seniors and the people who prepare their meals should become more aware so we all can keep food safe and prevent foodborne illness from getting the best of our senior loved ones.

  • Wash hands before, during and after food preparation
  • Read expiration dates on perishable and non perishable foods and throw away any foods that have passed their fresh date
  • Don’t buy foods that are past their sell-by date or are expired; read the labels before buying
  • Never cut fresh foods on the same cutting board used for meats or poultry
  • Cook foods in the microwave until they reach the correct temperature to ensure all bacteria is killed
  • Store leftovers promptly and reheat thoroughly to the correct temperature (165 degrees) to prevent microorganisms from flourishing
  • Check the refrigerator with a thermometer to be sure it is set at the proper temperature to keep foods safe (40 degrees or lower)
  • Wash fruits and vegetables, even if the skins are not going to be eaten
  • Clean kitchen surfaces with hot water and soap
  • Don’t thaw foods on the counter; safely thaw foods in the refrigerator or microwave and cook immediately
  • Don’t use food in cans that are dented or bulging
  • Bring food home from the grocery store promptly and refrigerate within 2 hours; if delayed, pack perishables in ice cooler during transport home

Seniors should avoid:

  • raw milk
  • unpasteurized milk and juice
  • raw meat, poultry, seafood and fish
  • under-cooked eggs
  • raw sprouts
  • soft cheeses made from raw, unpasteurized milk

Don’t Take Chances

Don’t depend on the smell or color of a food to determine if it is free from contamination. Sometimes it can’t be seen.

If your senior loved one becomes ill, contact their physician immediately.

Symptoms of food borne illness include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever.

Remember the old standby – – if in doubt, throw it out!

Keeping yourself and your loved ones safe in the kitchen is in your hands.

Family Caregiver Lifestyle Tech – Headphones That Leave Ears Open

It’s frustrating, isn’t it?

You start a conversation with someone, or half a conversation anyway, but fail to notice they have on earbuds and haven’t heard a thing you said.

It happens at home, in the office, walking down a busy street – seemingly everywhere.

There has to be an alternative, right?

Or…you’re a family caregiver who wants to listen to your favorite music, podcasts, or audiobooks – maybe even conference calls for your work – without disturbing your senior loved one or competing with what they are watching on tv.

At the same time, you need to be able to hear your senior if they ask you something or if something should happen to them and they need your attention.

That means you can’t afford to have something in your ears, blocking your ability to hear what is going on around you.

Maybe you’re like me and just aren’t comfortable with earbuds in your ears, not to mention wires that get in the way and mean we have to carry our phone or tablet when we want to listen to something.

There has to be an alternative that works for us, right?

Off-Ear Listening Alternative

I have been looking for options to traditional earbuds and headphones for some time. Yes, Bluetooth cut the wires but not the need to have something in or over my ears.

I tried a small Bluetooth speaker, but that still imposed what I wanted to hear on those around me.

AfterShokz_Bluez_2_Black sideThen I encountered AfterShokz, headphones that used bone conduction, at CES® 2015. I was skeptical and, besides, they looked like expensive toys for athletes, so I only paused briefly at their exhibit.

In the months after CES I did some research and began thinking the technology behind AfterShokz might be an answer to the problem.

Not only might it work for me and other family caregivers, I thought, but it could be valuable to seniors who, like me, want to listen without disturbing others but want to stay aware of their surroundings.

I put AfterShokz out of my mind after making a note to look them up at the next CES.

Reviewing AfterShokz

As CES 2016 approached, AfterShokz reached out to media registered for the event and offered to make available review units and I took them up on it. There was no condition other than publishing an article with my impressions (and no compensation).AfterShokz_Bluez_2_Black_front

I picked a pair of Bluez 2S to try. Based on their appearance and what I read, that model seemed most likely to appeal to the seniors who would be among my reviewers.

While CES week was packed with work, I couldn’t wait to give the headphones a try and paired them with my iPhone at the hotel.

I was immediately impressed with the sound, though it initially felt awkward to put them in front of my ears. It very was nice to be able to listen without putting something in my ear.
Since then, I have used the AfterShokz with my phone, tablet, and computer to listen to music, books, and video. Fittingly, I am wearing them as I write this. While I may have the volume a little higher than others would recommend, I was able to hear someone sneeze at the other end of the house.

My impression of the headphones has not changed. I’m no audiophile, but love music and really enjoy the freedom of listening and staying aware of what’s happening around me. I also like being able to walk around the house while listening without having to bring my device with me, especially when it’s the computer.

That’s not to say there aren’t things about AfterShokz that could be better. They are a little constraining when I move my head, especially when sitting, and sometimes disruptive to my eyeglass frames.

Reactions of Others

AfterShokz_Bluez_2S_womanI asked a few other family caregivers to give the headphones a try. They were all surprised they could get that kind of sound from something on their head rather than in or on their ears.

AfterShokz mentions in their promotional material that someone with hearing loss will find the headphones help them enjoy music so I thought I would put them to the extreme test.

I asked a friend who has had a profound loss from birth to give them a try, realizing that was well beyond the advertising. While he heard nothing unaided, he indicated hearing the music through his hearing aid when worn together.

I was unsure what reaction I would get from my older senior testers but their reaction was positive. They indicated they could see themselves using them around the house because of the situational awareness it gave them.

Option for Family Caregivers to Consider

My experience with the AfterShokz technology showed my initial skepticism was unwarranted.

While I wish I had requested their Trekz Titanium model for my review (I might just put that on my Father’s Day list), due to its thinner profile and 10% lighter weight, I am glad I gave them a try.

Family caregivers, seniors, and anyone else who wants to be able to enjoy listening without wires and while keeping their ears open and aware might want to give these headphones a try.

Senior Care Corner® is continuously on the lookout for technology that can make the lives of family caregivers easier and more enjoyable. We are finding more devices and applications that fit that bill all the time.

By giving caregivers the ability to enjoy listening to their media without impairing their awareness to the needs of their senior loved ones, the bone conduction technology utilized by the AfterShokz headphones can make the lives of caregivers more enjoyable. Seniors’ lives too!