Decluttering Your Senior’s Past from Their Home for the Future

Is it time to declutter?

Is the stuff that has been stored over the years in the way? Has a move to a more manageable location or just a need to ease the future finally mean something that must be done?

Older adults used to pare down their belongings when they did the spring cleaning each year, but many have stopped the practice of cleaning out and removing excess possessions.

Of course those of all ages are holding onto belongings longer, which is a big driver of the boom in storage facilities.

Does your senior loved one’s house have many years of stuff stored in the closet, basement, and any other spaces — what might be called clutter?

What is Clutter?

Clutter is defined as an accumulation of items that interfere with your daily life and usually have no inherent value, at least not now.

Would you want to be put in the position of being the one that decides what to do with the accumulation — what will go, get donated, or save for someone in the family?

Having clutter can be emotionally stressful for both older adults and their family caregivers. The stress can result in physical and emotional impacts for all involved.

Reducing the stuff can give you all a feeling of accomplishment, clear some pathways to make the home safer, and may even earn some money.

Relieving a Family Burden

Have you heard of ‘Death Cleaning’? It originated in Scandinavia and is the practice of decluttering, the goal of which is to relieve the pressure on the family in the future.

It is a culture that shifts the burden from children to the person who owns the stuff.

Would your senior loved one want you to spend hours sorting through their things instead of spending time with your own family or away from your job?

Expert Margareta Magnusson, who wrote The Gentle Are of Swedish Death Cleaning, says we should begin by talking about all the belongings with the immediate family.

Who in the family is interested in certain items, what memories do family caregivers have about the items, or what might items be worth if sold?

Talking about their possessions may help make it easier to downsize. Realizing that their memories are not contained in their belongings but are in their heart and soul may give seniors the push they need to clear out the clutter.

Advice from Professional Organizers

Your older adult has decided to do start downsizing, now what?

Where do you begin?

Here are some steps that experts advise to get you going:

  1. Don’t try to do the entire home at one time. Attack each room separately. Don’t move on until that room is completed.
  2. Take baby steps. Begin with the easy stuff like tossing old mail, warranties on products you no longer own or old magazines you never got around to reading. Then move on to things you haven’t used in the past year. Eventually you will decide on things that you have forgotten you stilled owned.
  3. Motivate you and your senior by setting achievable goals such as removing a garbage bag a week or filling a donation box each week. That will help you both focus on moving forward.
  4. Gather the tools that will make the job easier. Get some clean boxes, heavy duty garbage bags, permanent markers and labels, file folders and organizer bins to put things that you will keep neatly in their place. Important things you both decide to keep should be easy to access in the future when they may be needed.
  5. Devote time to the task. The entire house won’t be decluttered in a few minutes here and there because it is too easy to undo the progress. It will take hours of work (not all at one time) to declutter many years of collected treasures. Schedule the time to do it together if need be so that real progress can be achieved.
  6. Don’t overlook the bathroom where old lotions, shampoos, cosmetics, ointments, first aid supplies and expired medications are lurking. It isn’t safe to keep these things on the shelf and in the closet so it is best to dispose of them now.

Electronic Footprint

The same techniques can be used for their electronic life in the desktop computer, tablet or smartphone.

Are they holding on to emails for years?

Is your senior’s inbox filled with junk mail or old jokes mixed with important things like family photos?

This is also a good time to be sure all the passwords are up to date and discoverable by the people who need them such as executors or power of attorney designee. This can also help you determine if the proper security measures are in place so that no one can access important personal information when it may be too late to recover it.

Safe Disposal of Unwanted Belongings

Recycling as much as we possibly can to reduce the landfill and protect our planet is important to most of us.

Recycling is fairly easy to do in most municipalities. Unwanted items such as newspapers; print such as old telephone books, magazines and catalogs; plastic products, and metals such as aluminum and tin can all be recycled safely and reused in new ways.

You can donate belongings that can be re-purposed and used in unconventional ways by others who will see beauty in your trash. Thrift stores that benefit community agencies doing good work in your area are great places to donate your treasures.

When disposing of old electronics such as computers and mobile devices, be sure to wipe them clean internally. This is vital to removing old passwords and personal information. There are methods to erase the hard drive, but the most secure practice is to remove the hard drive altogether and destroy it.

Electronics like TVs need to be taken to a special recycling site due to the components which could be hazardous to the land and need to be disposed of carefully. Most cities will not allow TVs to be placed with the regular trash.

Batteries, liquid solvents and oil can also impact the environment so need to be disposed of carefully. Expired and unwanted medications are another thing that need special handling when you dispose of them. You can return in most large pharmacies in the take back boxes.

There are some items that should be donated to others in need such as old eyeglasses and hearing aids. There are many service organizations who will help get these items to people in need. Libraries and schools may be thrilled to get gently used books or try to sell them at a local used bookstore.

Don’t forget that there are many organizations that can use your donations including Habitat for Humanity. Many groups also take used vehicles.

The hardest part of decluttering is getting started. Once you get into it and begin to lessen the load, you and your senior will be invigorated to complete the task.

You might be surprised at what you will uncover!

 




Medication Management Conversation with Simple MedsSM on the Senior Care Corner® Podcast

Medications taken incorrectly can reduce their effectiveness or, worse, can be dangerous and even deadly.

More than half of seniors take their medications incorrectly, at least from time to time if not every day, according to estimates we’ve heard.

That’s understandable, since half are taking at least two prescription drugs in addition to a variety of over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements.

It’s not uncommon for some seniors to be taking more than 20 medications in a day.

Anyone — at any age — taking that many medications is likely to slip up and do so incorrectly from time to time.

There are a number of medication organizers we’ve seen that will help address the problem, including some connected digital organizers, and more are on the way. There are still human elements involved in loading the organizers, not to mention the time and effort needed to refill prescriptions and over-the-counter medications.

Fortunately, there is a solution that significantly simplifies the entire process for seniors and their family caregivers.

Click on the ▷ below to play the podcast (note: you can continue reading while you listen if you want)

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Medication Solution from Simple Meds

We encountered several medication management solutions at Aging in America, but none that intrigued us as much as Simple MedsSM.

First, Simple Meds is a pharmacy and step into the seniors medication process from the time the healthcare provider writes a prescription or recommends an over-the-counter medication through delivering to the senior’s home.

But it is much more than just “delivery” that they do.

While even the best of the medication organizers we found require someone, typically the senior or family caregiver, to load medications — leaving opportunities for errors right up front — Simple Meds effectively does that before shipping medications.

They prepare packets with the medications needed for each dosage time, which really does make the process “simple” for seniors, family caregivers, and anyone for that matter.

We were particularly impressed with the emphasis on service we heard from everyone with whom we spoke there. They pride themselves on doing much more than filling prescriptions.

Kyle Decker , PharmD

Rather than explain how Simple Meds works ourselves, we asked them for an interview we could share on the Senior Care Corner® Podcast. We had a great conversation with Kyle Decker, their Vice President of Pharmacy, and are pleased to share it with you.

In addition to everything they do, you might be interested to hear what Kyle has to say about the cost of having Simple Meds fill your senior’s prescriptions.

We realize Simple Meds is not the only provider offering a solution like this, but they were at Aging in America reaching out to the senior and caregiver community, which counts for something to us.

Links Mentioned in This Episode

  • Or call for more information at 615-645-6337 (MEDS)

We hope you enjoy this episode and find our conversation with Kyle to be as informative as we did.

You can also find us in the iOS (iPhone/iPad) Podcast app, Google Play, and on Spotify. Just search for the Senior Care Corner Podcast and you can subscribe to be notified of future episodes and listen to prior episodes (this is #72). Of course, you can always come back here to listen and catch the show notes as well.

We are planning future podcast episodes and look forward to having you join us regularly at Senior Care Corner!

Wireless Printing for Seniors’ Homes — Family Caregiver Quick Tip

Our digital devices are great for looking at pictures, reading emails, reviewing documents, and so much more. There are times, though, when we really want to put things on paper.

As we have experienced and been told, that is the case for many older adults, who grew up viewing photos on paper and receiving documents in person, by fax, or vial (snail) mail.

In addition, I have to admit sometimes viewing some documents and family photos on even the biggest smartphone screen just isn’t enough.

As one who has explained to others how to email pictures or documents or save them on a cloud drive to be opened and printed from a laptop or desktop connected to a printer, I know it can be a pain. I didn’t like doing it myself. Printing from a usb drive — don’t even go there!

Worse than just a pain, though, it could be enough to convince an already-hesitant senior loved one their smartphone is more trouble than it is worth and belongs in a drawer. Along with the smartphone in the drawer, then, will be all the current and future benefits mobile technology offers to help make aging in place successful.

Fortunately, there is a solution . . . wireless printing. It’s one of those technologies that, once we got it, we wondered how we did without it due to the convenience it offered.

Wireless Home Printing

Wireless printing uses a specially-equipped printer connected to the home’s WiFi. Connected rather easily, in most cases anyway, I might add.

Note that ‘wireless’ does not mean no wires at all, as the printer will still be powered from a standard electric outlet.

Your senior loved one has WiFi in their home, don’t they? While mobile devices will connect to web without it (if the signal is strong enough), many of the innovations that will help seniors age in place successfully — and longer — connect to the web via WiFi. We discuss that in a number of other articles, such as this one on technology adoption.

Assuming WiFi is in place, wireless printing is as easy as 1-2-3.

  1. Purchase a wireless printer. There are a lot of models available (a search for ‘wireless printer‘ on Amazon produces over 1,000 results) so think about the options of value to your senior — such as scanning, two-sided printing, or multiple paper sizes — and check out some reviews. At the bottom of the article you will find some Amazon best sellers.
  2. Unbox the printer and set it up. Taking off all the plastic protecting the printer may be the most time consuming part of unboxing. After that, many printers simply require putting paper in the tray, plugging it in, and connecting it to WiFi.
  3. Select ‘Print’ on your smartphone or tablet (as long as they are connected to the same WiFi network) in the app with the picture, email, or document you want to print. Newer versions of iOS and Android operating systems have the wireless printing function built in, so any wireless printer on the same WiFi connection as the device will come up as an option.

Wireless printing also works with laptop and desktop computers too, though the printer setup is typically more complicated (though not more so than for a printer connected to the computer).

Roles for Family Caregivers

While we have found many seniors can handle the setup themselves, some seniors (and future seniors) will benefit from a helping hand. Side benefit: this is another thing you can do together!

Note that, like other devices, printers may drop the WiFi connection from time to time, so it might be helpful to take reconnection instructions to the printer, particularly if you are a long distance family caregiver.

If you’re like us and simply stumped about what to get senior loved ones for Christmas or their birthday, a wireless printer (and your time to set it up with them) just might be a gift for which they will thank you again and again!

Amazon Best Sellers in Wireless Printers

[amazon bestseller=”wireless printer” items=”5″ grid=”5″]

Playing Games Together for Fun and Mental Exercise

Who doesn’t love to play a game?

It has been shown that people who experience memory loss can stimulate and engage their brain by playing games.

The games can be many, varied, and either high tech or low tech. As long as the senior enjoys playing them and is fully engaged, game playing will stimulate their brains health through participation.

Playing different types of games that require different skills will mean that the game should change with each stage of dementia. As the disease progresses, the game should as well so that they are able to participate without frustration. Becoming frustrated or angry about following rules or remembering strategy isn’t healthy, helpful, or fun.

Games that you play with your senior with dementia should be failure free. You don’t have to play by the rules or play a full game at one time. No one has to win or lose. It should just be fun. Perhaps they can choose from a few games you have on hand.

Benefits of Game Playing

Seniors and their family caregivers can all find benefits in a simple (or even more complex) game.

Playing games shouldn’t just be for kids. In fact, 25% of video gamers are over 50 years old.

There are physical, cognitive and emotional benefits that can be elicited through game playing.

  • Game playing stimulates cognition in people with memory loss, helps to stimulate memories, and builds processing skills. Recognizing numbers, shapes, or colors is stimulating for our brains.
  • Being physical, even when sitting in a chair to play games such as Wii bowling, ball games, or throwing darts, is good for aging bodies.
  • Playing together with people in the family, friends, peers, or kids increases socialization. This can limit loneliness and push depression away.
  • Connecting with others can give a senior purpose, especially if it is scheduled regularly.
  • Laughing, a really good belly laugh, makes the brain, body, and soul feel good.
  • Remembering playing specific games when they were younger or feeling like a winner when a game challenge is overcome is joyous. It can increase the mood and prevent depression and isolation.
  • One research study found that playing brain stimulating games may reduce the number of amyloid plaques in the brain.
  • Hand-eye coordination is improved when rolling dice and moving playing pieces across a game board
  • Video exergames like Wii Fit were shown to improve balance

Types of Games for Memory and Enjoyment

Whatever game you and, especially, your senior loved one enjoy playing and are capable of doing without frustration is the one you should play. Perhaps there are several that you can rotate through to use different memory skills.

Here are a few examples of games that seniors will love:

Card games – more difficult skill level such as Bridge, Gin Rummy, Cribbage, or Hearts all the way to less complicated games like Uno, Old Maid, Solitaire, Go Fish, or Crazy Eights can be fun and stimulating depending on the skill level of all the involved participants; you may find that large print cards work better for your senior loved one

Board games – more difficult games of strategy for those in the early stages of dementia include Chess, Clue, Backgammon, Scrabble, Risk, Mah Jong, Yahtzee, or Trivial Pursuit; less difficult games for later stages and skill include Checkers, Candy Land, Trouble, Connect Four, Don’t Wake Daddy, or Kerplunk

Memory games – games where you must match pairs of like cards in any form or style, shape buddies, or word games such as Name 5, crosswords, Suduko, word search, jumble, PicLink, I Spy

Video or Computer Games – Smart Brain, Brain Age, Words with Friends, Sea Quest, Candy Crush, Tetris, Wordscapes, WordSearch, Magic Puzzle

Building games – Lincoln Logs, Jenga, Blocks, Block Buddies, Legos, Qwirkle, Jigsaw Puzzles, simple nuts/bolts or folding laundry, playdough, manipulatives like Tangram and Tangle games

Fun games – Bingo, Dominoes, Charades, Pictionary

Creative activities – arts and crafts, painting with acrylics or watercolors, finger painting, coloring with pencils or markers, free drawing, knitting, crocheting, ceramics

Sensory stimulation – touching objects, odor recognition, listening to and identifying sounds, Name that Tune

Movement games – exergames using video platform like dance party or Wii sports, darts, badminton, bowling, skee ball, ring toss, horseshoes, parachute, volleyball, bean bag toss, blowing bubbles, musical chairs, Bocce

Exercise – Tai Chi, yoga, calisthenics, jogging, walking, swimming, hiking, golfing, tennis, gardening, table tennis

Technology and Games

Low tech game activities will give all the benefits as described, but so will games that use available technology.

Family caregivers can set their senior loved one up with a tablet or smartphone to play some of these games. There are numerous apps that are free to play games such as puzzle building, crosswords, sequencing, cards, etc. Playing games on apps is a great way to entertain while you stimulate memory as well as pass the time.

Video game systems can be set up to play against others of your choice, such grandchildren who live in another location, state or even country! Playing against someone known to them from the comfort of their own living room could be the motivator needed to stay engaged.

Connecting on a tablet or smartphone to play games such as Words with Friends with family members is another way to encourage and motivate participation. Challenge them!

You can also play games with a senior on Facetime or Skype. Connecting on the tablet or computer with a grandchild and playing their favorite board game is entertaining for all. Either the child or the senior can have the actual game and move the pieces.

Remember, the purpose of the game is engagement and brain stimulation, not who wins or if the rules are being followed to the letter.

Improving quality of life for the person with dementia is the WIN — one that comes with bonuses for all who play!

 

If you want some game and activity ideas, you might want to check out that section of The Shop at Senior Care Corner.

Words of Comfort for Family Caregivers of Loved Ones with Dementia

For many family caregivers of seniors with dementia, progressing with the disease through the years can bring change and sadness.

It is also common for caregivers to subject themselves to a lot of self-questioning, of which these are a few:

Where is the person you once knew?

Are you doing all that you can, all that they desire you to do?

Where do they go in their mind during their silence?

Are they remembering the good times in their life?

Is their life filled with contentment?

No one can really answer these questions for family caregivers especially as the disease of dementia progresses to its final stages.

You have been caring for them and their degenerative disease of memory loss for many years and wonder why them?

A Poem for Dementia Caregivers

We found this poem and felt it might help caregivers of seniors with dementia remember that their loved one is still with them.

They are still in need of your love, caring, and devotion even — or maybe especially — when they can’t ask for it or thank you.

We hope you find inspiration and peace in these words…

 

10 Requests from an Alzheimer’s Patient

Please be patient with me.
I am the helpless victim of a brain disease.

Talk to me.
Even though I cannot always answer.

Be kind to me.
Each day of my life is a desperate struggle.

Consider my feelings.
They are still very much alive within me.

Treat me with dignity and respect.
As I would have gladly treated you.

Remember my past.
For I was once a healthy vibrant person.

Remember my present.
For I am still living.

Remember my future.
Though it may seem bleak to you.

Pray for me.
For I am a person who lingers in the mists of time and eternity.

Love me.
And the gifts of love you give will be a blessing forever…..

~Anonymous

Importance of Dementia Caregivers

Everyday you are special to the person with dementia for and about whom you care.

You are making a difference in their life, even if they can’t express it.

Remember always that you are where you need to be at a time most necessary to them.

You will never regret what you do today for your senior loved one with dementia.

Thank you for your perseverance and dedication!

 

Invitation to — The Shop at Senior Care Corner®

Time is the currency in shortest supply for many family caregivers of older adults.

Finding the answer to “what do I do when…” is often a challenge as well.

Helping solve both of those challenges for family caregivers is a big part of what drove us to create Senior Care Corner® — and what motivates us to put in all the work to keep it going.

Being an even bigger part of the solution has driven us to develop The Shop at Senior Care Corner®, to help caregivers and other family members of seniors answer even more questions, including:

  • What can I read to get more in depth information about caring for my senior loved one?
  • How do I help modify their home to enable them to achieve their goal of aging in place successfully?
  • What can I do to better care for my own needs while I am caring for my senior loved one and the rest of my family?
  • How do I show appreciation for the family members and professional helpers caring for my senior loved ones and what I can give them to make their work a little easier?

The Shop at Senior Care Corner

Knowing how tough family caregivers can find it to shop, we are intentionally keeping the selection at The Shop at Senior Care Corner to a manageable level, helping you avoid the time and confusion associated with going through the thousands (or millions) of items found at many retailers.

We also know security and privacy are huge concerns and designed the Store so you actually make your purchases, arrange for shipping, and have the protection of return policies at major retailers — Amazon.com in most cases. We never see your personal info, payment method, or what you bought.

The Shop at Senior Care Corner is initially “stocked” based on our own experiences and what we hear from other family caregivers.

Our departments include:

  • Books for Caregivers — Selection of books to help inform caregivers, providing information regarding what senior loved ones are experiencing and guidance in meeting their needs
  • Technology — Devices and solutions covering a variety of areas and needs for seniors and their family caregivers
  • Home Safety — Solutions caregivers can use to help make the homes of senior loved ones safer for successful aging in place
  • Healthcare Devices — Home health devices to help make aging in place healthier for senior loved ones
  • Home Adaptive Aids — Equipment and solutions to help make a house not quite designed for older adults a home for aging in place
  • Smart Home Tech — Digital devices to help make aging in place more convenient (and maybe more fun) for senior loved ones
  • Activities — Things seniors and family caregivers can do together
  • Computing — Home computing equipment and accessories such as printers, keyboards, monitors, and more

A Work in Progress

The Shop at Senior Care Corner currently features items we have chosen, but we realize family caregivers – and the seniors for whom they care – have a wide variety of needs, beyond what we have in the Store now.

Please let us know how we can improve the Store to better meet your needs.

Should we add departments? We have some additions in mind but would like to hear what you have to say.

Are there products you would like to see us add to the current departments?

We look forward to your comments. In the meantime . . .

Happy Shopping!

Caregiver Stress Relievers – Reminders for Your Well-Being

Being a family caregiver is certainly fulfilling and a way to give back to the senior who gave you so much during your lifetime.

However, it can be a source of stress for caregivers who are already stretched thin between their career and their family life.

Some researchers categorize caregiver stress as chronic stress experience because it is both a psychological and physical stress which occurs over extended periods of time.

Stress can impact the health of caregivers, so it is important to recognize it and do all you can to overcome the stressors in your life.

Impacts of Stress When Caregiving

Many family caregivers have firsthand experience of the impacts that providing care for older adults can have on them, both physically and emotionally.

Stress comes with the territory. Being stressed in no way changes our commitment to this role in the family.

Caregivers value their ability to nurture, support and facilitate the health and safety of their older adults. Your involvement usually allows senior loved ones to continue to live independently as they choose.

Physical effects of stress can occur for caregivers when these conditions are present:

  • Poor quality of diet and lack of quality nutrition
  • Failure to attend to their own preventive and routine medical health issues
  • Feelings of distress and depression
  • Advanced age
  • Amount of time and complexity of hands-on personal care activity required by senior care recipient – for example, daily or more than 20 hours a week of personal care for ADLs or activities of daily living such as bathing, toileting, feeding, transferring, ambulation, etc.
  • Extended duration in years of caregiving responsibilities – longer time involved in caring versus new-onset caring
  • Caring for a person with dementia
  • Lack of adequate sleep or regular physical activity

Caregiving stress can be manifested in frustration, exhaustion, anger, mood swings, feeling deserted or isolated, sadness, weight changes, pain, headaches, weakened immune systems, or illness.

Caregiver Stress Reducers

We know stress is inevitable when caring for others. How we cope with the everyday people and situations in our lives can make the difference between healthy caregiving and burnout.

Here are some ideas to help you adopt behaviors that will help you reduce your stress.

  1. Go to bed on time and get enough sleep.
  2. Say “No” to requests that won’t fit into your time schedule or that will compromise your mental health.
  3. Delegate tasks to capable others. It isn’t a failure to let others help you.
  4. Simplify and unclutter your life.
  5. Take one day at a time. Spread out big changes and difficult projects over time; don’t lump the hard things all together.
  6. Separate worries from concerns. If a situation is a concern, do what you can do and let go of the anxiety. If you can’t do anything about the situation, forget it.
  7. Have backups: an extra car key in your wallet, an extra house key buried in the garden, extra stamps, etc.
  8. K.M.S. (Keep Mouth Shut). This single piece of advice can prevent an enormous amount of trouble.
  9. Get enough exercise.
  10. Eat right.
  11. Get organized so everything has its place.
  12. Every day, find time alone. Relax and refresh.
  13. Having problems? Join a support group and/or see a counselor. Try to nip small problems in the bud.
  14. Remember that the shortest bridge between despair and hope is often a good night’s sleep.
  15. Laugh and Laugh some more!
  16. Develop a forgiving attitude – most people are doing the best they can just like you.
  17. Be kind to unkind people they probably need it the most.
  18. Talk less; listen more.
  19. Slow down!
  20. Every night before bed, think on one thing you’re grateful for that you’ve never been grateful for before.

These are just a few things you can do to release some of your caregiving stress.

There are other beneficial strategies that family caregivers can practice to cope with stress, such as meditation, yoga, massage therapy, hot baths, learning more shortcuts or techniques to make caring easier, scheduling time for yourself and things you enjoy, flexible work schedule, aroma therapy, and other relaxation tactics.

It is true that some stress can motivate us to react appropriately to situations with which we may be faced. However, long-term stress can result in health problems such as the chronic stress of caregiving.

Physical and mental health issues can make caregivers unable to continue to care for their seniors. That is why it is imperative to cope with stress.

Family caregivers can do anything they are called upon to accomplish, but they can’t do everything!

House Sharing – Social and Financial Solution for Many Seniors on the Senior Care Corner® Podcast

Older adults who may be living alone as a result of being newly single when the kids leave the nest or losing a partner or those who never married or are recently divorced have realized that aging in place can be lonely without someone else around.

Solo aging can also be expensive for those accustomed to having two incomes to pay the bills.

What if seniors could have someone to share the experience of aging in place?

Many of us recall the popular 80’s TV series The Golden Girls, about four older women who shared a home.

Sharing the financial burden of housing, gaining companionship or a community, having help with the household chores including home maintenance, or taking care of a pet are some of the benefits that house sharing can provide for seniors who want to maintain their independence without shouldering the entire load.

Shared housing is another term for this fast-growing living situation many boomers are seeking either through online sites, workshops or personal connections.

Statistics show this trend is growing. The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University found that the number of older adults living with non-relatives went from about 400,000 in 2001 to about 900,000 in 2016.

The numbers also reflect growth in shared housing that is outpacing the overall growth in the senior population, so the trend is one that is becoming more popular.

Because of the growing interest among seniors in a topic not known well by most family caregivers, we decided to make it the subject of this episode of the Senior Care Corner® Podcast.

Click on the ▷ below to play the podcast (note: you can continue reading while you listen if you want)

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Benefits of Shared Housing

There are many benefits including having someone to talk with at the end of a busy day or someone who will keep an eye out in case of an emergency which is an advantage for family caregivers who can relax a little that their senior is safe and not home alone.

As we age, we tend to have a decreased need for material things and gravitate toward shared relationships. We seem to be, as one expert stated at the recent Aging in America conference, ‘wired’ to connect with others as we age. Connectivity in social relationships is a major benefit of shared housing especially for solo agers.

Having extra income for seniors on fixed incomes by leveraging the largest asset, their home, can relieve financial burdens with which many older adults find themselves struggling. It is estimated that 45% of solo agers are 90% dependent on Social Security benefits for their income.

However, benefits also come with challenges, too. It is important that a housemate is fully vetted in advance and signs a contract spelling out the rent, house rules, and options to cancel the agreement. Getting advice from an expert on financial agreements and other legal details is imperative and organizations who help match house sharers will assist with this step of the process.

Being aware that conflict is inevitable, even among the best of friends and compatible roommates, so planning for these possibilities ahead of time will save trouble.

It is important to set up rules for the house such as who cleans the bathroom, overnight visitors, the thermostat settings, who gets a house key, expense sharing, when payment should be made, and how conflict will be resolved before entering into this type of agreement. Another important point to clearly spell out is how can housemates exit the agreement if they are dissatisfied with the arrangement?

Conversation with Silvernest

We first met Silvernest, a service that helps baby boomers and empty nesters meet the challenges of successful home sharing, at Aging in America earlier this year.

One of the things we really like about them is that they built a roommate matching process from the ground up based on the needs of older adults, rather than simply using one initially developed for those who are younger.

Wendi Burkhardt

While researching Silvernest to learn more, we came across this self-description on BuiltInColorado.com, a hub for Colorado startups:

Silvernest boldly breaks the rules of aging so you can open your home on your own terms. We’re creating the next generation of roommates. A more modern kind. A well matched kind. A kind that’s just your style. Because around here, the details are totally up to you.

In 2015, nonprofit leader, author, and activist Robert Egger, when asked by CNN “what is the most most important company we’ve never heard of,” said it was Silvernest.

We are pleased Wendi Burkhardt, Silvernest Co-Founder and CEO, agreed to let us record a conversation so we — and you — could learn more and are pleased to share it with you in this episode of the Senior Care Corner Podcast.

Link Mentioned in This Episode

 

We hope you found this podcast informative and will check back with Senior Care Corner often for future podcasts and other articles.

 




 

Mobility Scooters Mean Independence on Wheels – and Risks – for Seniors

Independence and self-sufficiency are goals that many seniors seek — and many family caregivers seek for their loved ones.

Remaining mobile even after their bodies cease cooperating is achievable through durable medical equipment such as walkers, canes, power wheelchairs, and mobility scooters.

Many have opted to use a mobility scooter for the speed and convenience it provides. Not every senior who would like to own one is able to due to the cost.

A senior must qualify to receive a scooter under Medicare as medically necessary and even that has become more difficult, as we learned when the government took aim at claims made by a manufacturer selling scooters and billing Medicare.

It is estimated that scooter purchases were a $1 billion industry in the US before Medicare took action. The government stated that as many as 80% of scooters in use did not meet medical guidelines for necessity.

A senior can use a complimentary scooter at many grocery stores and large chain retail stores, who make them available for shopping experiences to attract those with mobility problems.

Scooters can give seniors freedom to participate in more activities and visit more places than they feel comfortable or safe doing otherwise. Inactivity and immobility can lead to more health consequences, boredom and isolation for some seniors.

Potential Scooter Danger

You knew it was coming . . . yes, there is a downside to mobility scooters!

Many seniors who are in possession of a motorized wheelchair scooter are at risk for injury. One staff member at a senior citizen apartment complex with whom I spoke recently felt that the hallways had become a NASCAR track, as speeding seniors zoomed past.

Seniors don’t have to pass a test at the DMV to get a scooter and many don’t even get an extensive tutorial when the scooter is delivered. This leaves many questions for loved ones.

  • Do they know how to operate it properly?
  • What safety precautions do they need to know to operate one safely and not be a danger to themselves and others?
  • Will someone be there to help when they get into an accident, either on the street, at a store, or alone in their own home?

Let’s not forget the property damage that seniors at the controls can inadvertently cause, such as gouged walls, cracked drywall, scratched doors, toppling over objects in their paths, and any number of other “fender benders.”

Strategies to Improve Mobility Scooter Safety

There are steps family caregivers can take to promote safety, many of which are already in use at senior living facilities, where scooter use is often treated as a privilege rather than a right.

It’s important to keep in mind that many seniors, both those driving scooters and those around whom they are driving, may be less able to react quickly and more susceptible to injury in even minor collisions.

  • Many facilities and apartment buildings frequented by scooter driving seniors have been giving driving tests, which must be passed in order to use their scooter. Some have not passed and face yielding their scooter. Help your senior loved one get tested for safety awareness and operation.
  • Staff members have become crossing guards and monitor the safe use of scooters once they are allowed to be used. Privileges are revoked when safety is a concern whether physical to the driver, pedestrians or the building. Warn your senior of the consequences of unsafe actions.
  • Experts warn that scooters need to crawl, not zip, speeding is not recommended! Use turtle speed. Set the speed on the scooter for them.
  • Read the owner’s manual before use and try to get a driver’s training class before your senior gets behind the wheel. Help them understand it is for their own and others’ safety.
  • Order a scooter with four wheels instead of three to give added stability and help prevent rollovers.
  • Be sure your senior’s arm mobility allows for adequate use of braking and steering mechanisms.
  • Stress importance of maintaining posture. Many rollovers are caused by shifting weight side to side or sitting too far forward causing tips.
  • Stay on a flat surface, avoiding high pile carpeting that can impair wheel function or even get fibers into the mechanism. When outdoors avoid debris, cracks, potholes, uneven surfaces, and steep inclines. Avoid grass and soft dirt areas too.
  • Use rear view or side mirrors. If they aren’t included, add them yourself.
  • Consult an Occupational Therapist (OT) to help you determine the best model for your senior.
  • Keep the settings recorded once initially set up so they can be checked for correctness or altered as the senior’s needs change. Be sure the supplier sets up the scooter after purchase specifically for the intended user.
  • Remind your senior loved one they could be liable for any injuries or damage caused by unsafe use of the “vehicle” they drive. This includes medical costs and property damage resulting from an accident. A lawsuit could also result or even criminal charges depending on the incident.
  • Do routine maintenance to ensure proper functioning of the scooter, including regular inspections, tightening all the nuts and bolts, and checking the electrical system and wheels.

Maintaining Safety Helps Independence, Too

Too often we read the headlines of injuries such as the woman who was mowed down by a scooter and suffered a broken leg; people being knocked over; toes getting run over resulting in bone breaks; and damage to elevator doors.

For each major reported incident there are likely many more that aren’t reported.

We all need to remember safety first and go slow when behind the wheel of a scooter wherever it is used and whether it is owned or borrowed from a store.

Discussing safety precautions for their own scooter can help your senior loved one become more aware of the other scooters in use around them and avoid becoming a victim themselves.

A few safety precautions will mean a better experience for all.

We wish your loved ones happy scootering!