Easter Baskets for Seniors Full of Special Treats & Memories

Springtime again! Many trees are sporting flowers and others have leaves busting out.

It’s time to gather together our woven baskets and multi-colored plastic straw hay!

For many seniors it means the grandkids are coming to search for goodies to celebrate spring on Easter Sunday, whether it’s celebrated as a religious holiday or simply happiness that the seasons are changing (and maybe a few days off from school).

We love to hide brightly colored eggs with hidden surprises inside for the children. The love to find a coin, a chocolate treat, a marshmallow peep, or the golden ticket!

Memories of Easters Past

Even adults enjoy treats, surprises, and special goodies from time to time – particularly on days that hold fond memories, such as Easter. Special treats can bring back cherished memories of childhood, some adulthood holidays, and the special people with whom they shared the day.

They might remember getting all dressed up in their finest bib and tucker or getting a new outfit – or special hat – for the special day.

Many will never forget the white patent leather Mary Jane shoes they would wear for the day and then not again until summer, at least until after Memorial Day!

Senior Easter Basket Wishes

What do you get for your senior loved ones’ Easter basket? You know them best, of course, but here are some ideas to get you thinking.

  • A new hat (maybe one you pick together) or perhaps take an older hat and add embellishments onto together as a multi-generational project)
  • A new piece of jewelry, such as a beaded necklace or brooch (something they could wear to church or family gatherings and show off)
  • A new floral perfume (reminiscent of a bygone scent or a favorite flower in the garden would be especially nice)
  • A family photo (perhaps a recent one of the grandkids or an older version with those no longer with us)
  • Chocolate bunny candy or cream filled eggs (my family loved maple candy that was a special and rare treat)
  • An Easter lily (this is a tradition I remember from my earliest childhood, we never went to grandma’s house without a lily!)
  • A handmade card (one made by the kids with messages of endearment or glued on macaroni)
  • Jelly beans (the quintessential Easter treat — who could forget or resist!)
  • Coupons (ones from their favorite restaurant, local business, grocery item or handmade for unique gifts like washing the windows or polishing the silver)
  • Personal items they might find useful, like hearing aid batteries, glass cleaning cloth, denture paste, a favorite skin lotion, new nail polish or lipstick, lip balm, aftershave, a backscratcher, nail file, sunscreen or any item that shows you are paying attention to what they need and those things they like.

Make the Basket Personal

The key running through the ideas above is that the contents of the basket for your senior should have personal meaning to them rather than being one of the ready-made packages we see all over the stores.

We are sure you can think of other things that might make special gifts, such as a new sweater or lightweight jacket, a book, slippers, or other items.

Think how much fun it would be to put these smaller items into a pretty new wicker basket with a big pastel bow and remind your senior of how it felt to be young waiting for the Easter bunny!

Enjoy your family moments and reminiscing about fun times in years past. After all, those memories can be the most special treats of all!

 

 




Survey Closer Look — Insights on Tech from Seniors Who Are Caregivers

As we often hear and read, the senior (65+) population is growing rapidly, more so than any other age group.

What you may not realize is that the number of senior family caregivers is also rising rapidly.

One in five adult caregivers, or more than 8 million in all, are seniors, according to the 2015 report Caregiving in the US from AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving.

Yet we seldom — if ever — see any research that considers the needs of older caregivers.

Even a recent report from the Consumer Technology Association, which we feel has been making real strides in consideration of older adults in their research, capped the age on the “caregivers” segment of their study at 64.

Given all of this, it was particularly gratifying to us that half of the responses to our recent technology survey were from seniors who consider themselves to be caregivers.

We feel the insights from and needs of these senior caregivers are important enough to merit a closer look on their own.

What the Survey Is — and Isn’t

This survey was conducted to provide us insight into our readership for purposes of planning our future technology coverage. As such, we make no claims that it is a statistically valid sampling of family caregivers — or even of those who visit Senior Care Corner®.

It is, though, an indication of the opinions of those in our audience who were kind enough to take the time to tell us what they think.

That is important to us and very much appreciated.

We also understand and will take into account that those who responded to the survey — and those who visit Senior Care Corner overall — are already, at a minimum, using the technology needed to connect to the web and may be more attuned to tech than other older adults and family caregivers.

Now that we have an understanding, onto the results of the survey.

The following survey results reflect those respondents who were 65+ and identified as family caregivers.

Question 3: Respondents Level of Tech Use

We were somewhat surprised to see just over half of the senior caregivers consider themselves to be avid users of digital technology, slightly more than the younger survey respondents.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised, since tech users may have been more likely to respond to our online survey, but it is inconsistent with the widely held perception seniors and tech are not a good mix.

Then again, we have been saying for a while that perception is wrong.

Question 4: Respondents Role with Technology

As the chart below reflects, the senior caregiver survey respondents reflect a broad range of experience and roles with technology in their homes.

Just about half of those responding indicated they are the primary purchasers and implementers of technology in their own homes, as well as the troubleshooters, with a fair number indicating they have the same role in the homes of others.

The flip side is that about half of the respondents rely on someone else to take the lead on technology in their homes.

These responses tell us we have to keep in mind the full range of roles in our technology reporting.

Question 5: Areas of Concern with Technology

With 2 of 5 senior caregivers listing it, in line with respondents overall, data privacy is clearly the greatest technology concern. There is good reason for that, of course, but security concerns do not seem to have deterred them from using tech.

Interestingly, these caregivers are a third less likely to say technology costs too much than are younger respondents. They are also less than half as likely to feel tech is too complicated.

Given their responses, including the 1 in 4 who have no concerns, senior caregivers should be on the radar of tech companies.

This is not to ignore the data privacy issue, which we all share. We plan to respond to the survey feedback by providing more information on safe and secure use of digital technology.

Question 6: Respondents’ Technology Interest Areas

While senior caregivers expressed interest in learning more about the full range of technologies in the survey, their interests were clearly focused in the areas of smartphones and tablets, home health devices, and home security. These are the areas that are currently the most developed of the tech areas and provide readily-identifiable benefits to both senior caregivers and those for whom they care.

Given that senior caregivers express receptivity to using tech overall, it may be they will need only to see a demonstration of the benefits of other technologies for their interest to rise. We will continue reporting on these areas to give them a chance to decide for themselves.

Question 7: Respondents’ Learning Preferences

This question was very important to us in planning our future delivery of information on Senior Care Corner, as we want to present information in a way that is preferred by our audience and therefore most beneficial to them.

Senior caregivers expressed clear preferences for information communicated in written articles and video. According to these responses, our podcast was not the best way to reach this older group.

The senior caregivers’ preference for articles and videos is consistent with what younger respondents told us, while the seniors’ interest in podcasts and webinars was much lower.

What We Learned from Senior Caregivers

While we are keeping in mind the survey is not scientific, we can’t help but be excited about the responses from the senior caregivers.

Clearly there are many in this group who are both users of technology and interested in learning more. We plan on continuing to feed their interest with our tech coverage with practical insights that will provide benefits for both them and those for whom they care.

Also in mind is the reality there are likely other senior caregivers who did not respond and whose need to see technology’s benefits may be even greater. Hopefully we will get their feedback over time.

We hope the positive response to technology of senior caregivers is also being noticed by the tech companies, which will hopefully be further motivated to develop solutions to the problems of this group and demonstrate the benefits of those solutions.

Senior Care Corner looks forward to learning about those solutions and keeping you up to date!

Giving Holiday Magic to Seniors in Need, Now & Throughout the Year

The holiday season often leads to thoughts of what we can do to assist others in need, especially when we have what we need for our own senior loved ones.

The data from the last census tells us that one in six seniors lives below the federal poverty level. At 16%, the proportion of seniors living in poverty is also higher than the proportion of all Americans in poverty according the data.

The bottom line is that millions of seniors are suffering while trying to meet their basic needs.

Many of us are familiar with the work done by food banks, soup kitchens and those who provide holiday meals in shelters that are found across the country. But what about those seniors who are homebound, have no access to transportation to get to these sites, are disabled, or have no family to provide enhancements whether they are living at home or in a facility?

Who is thinking about helping them or giving them some treats of the season?

How about you? Do you have time or money to give to help seniors in your community during the holiday season but don’t know where to look?

Programs Helping Seniors in Need

There are many programs we have found that are reaching out to seniors who might be alone and in need of a little extra attention (and supplies) during the holidays.

There are seniors in your area who are in need of help and outreach projects that are serving them, but here are just a few examples of programs to which you can offer your support.

The Humanitarian Service Project –  Senior Citizen Project

This project serves seniors in DuPage County, Illinois who have limited access to transportation and few, if any, family ties. The Senior Citizen Project delivers to seniors over 100 pounds of nutritious food each month. Fresh produce includes 15 assorted fruits and vegetables, 7 different frozen meats, fresh bread, 6 bags of non-perishable food, and paper products including toilet paper, paper towels, and facial tissue.

Seniors also receive household products, personal care items, and special gifts from their Secret Pals. Volunteers deliver these items right to the homes of the needy seniors at no cost to them.

The wish list program invites the senior to request items like televisions, microwaves, couches, refrigerators, and vacuum cleaners to make everyday living more comfortable, or medical assistive devices such as wheelchairs, etc.

DOROT’s Thanksgiving Meal Delivery

DOROT’s holiday meal delivery program “Brighten the day of a senior! Deliver a traditional Thanksgiving meal along with a gift to an older person and visit for about an hour.” Located in New York.

Volunteers needed to help elderly live with dignity at home, generation to generation caregiving.

Seniors have the option of coming to share a meal with the group at the center or have a meal delivered to their home for Thanksgiving.

Seasonal Home Maintenance at Housing Opportunities & Maintenance for Seniors (HOME)

In the city of Chicago you can help weatherize the house of a senior in need with the H.O.M.E. program. Help seniors prepare their home for the harsh winter to come. Training and materials are provided.

The goal of this program is to facilitate aging in place as long as possible and practical for each senior.

The Angel Tree Program

The Salvation Army’s highest profile Christmas effort was created in 1979 by Majors Charles and Shirley White. This program can be found throughout the country and serves not only children but seniors in need as well.

You select an angel from the tree for a senior which include their wish list. You fulfill the wish and return the gifts it to the site of the tree. Volunteers then deliver the gifts near the holidays.

Look for an angel tree in your community or contact your local Salvation Army for more details.

Catholic Charities

The programs sponsored by Catholic Charities in your area also sponsor families and seniors who are in need of some Christmas cheer. You can locate the agency nearest you to see if you can assist their program.

Holiday Dinner Baskets for Homebound Seniors

This program from So Others May Eat (SOME) says “Would you like to help a homebound senior this holiday season? You can provide holiday food baskets! Filled with all of the trimmings, these baskets will be delivered to low-income seniors.”

This group works in Washington DC. You make the food basket using the list they provide and drop off to them for distribution.

Meals on Wheels

Through Meals on Wheels, across the country meals are provided to homebound seniors throughout the year. Volunteers deliver meals and socialize with the seniors they serve.

At the holiday, usually special holiday meals and even treats are given through this program. Contact your local program to see how you can help using this locator.

Support Senior Programs in Your Community

The programs we discussed above are just a sampling of programs that have caught our eye over time. There are many, many more great ones providing benefit to seniors across the country.

We urge you to seek out and support programs in your own community. These programs are only going to see more demand for their services as the senior population grows and puts a greater strain on all the resources available to serve them.

As with many things, you might learn the most about what is in your community with a quick Google search. Of course, local government agencies and senior centers might also point you in the right direction, but you may get the most full picture from a web search. Keep in mind. some programs operate on a shoestring budget and may not have a web presence, but most today are at least on Facebook, if they don’t have standalone sites, finding being online is needed in many eyes to have credibility.

As with donating to any cause, you should check out senior programs before you lend your support. Visit them or ask around to ensure the program is legitimate and one you will feel good supporting.

Keep in mind, too, that money is not the only way you can support local programs. They may find any time you can give them even more valuable than money!

Holidays Aren’t the Only Time of Need

During the holidays, we want to share the spirit of the season with those in need of some help. However, it is nice to remember that most of the programs that help vulnerable seniors could use our help at other times during the year. Most food banks give meals every week, Meals on Wheels are delivered daily during the week, and aging service organizations have opportunities to volunteer in many ways.

If you have the time, you could share your talents (or treasure) with organizations near you that help our seniors.

Family caregivers are very busy people who don’t always have extra time for other ‘jobs’ and could often use help themselves. Still, if you have the resources and desire to help seniors you will be reminded that in giving to others we end up being the recipients of something special ourselves.

Happy Holidays to you and your senior loved one!

 

 




Giving Thanks to Family Caregivers and Those Who Support Their Efforts

Successful family caregivers provide for the needs of their loved ones while finding a way to navigate their own busy day and complete it with a sense of fulfillment.

They don’t do it alone, but lean on the support of a broad network to make their successful day happen smoothly.

But just what does that mean and how can you do it too?

Family caregivers who can end their day saying it was a job well done, no major chaos happened, and who feel as though they accomplished a good part of their to-do list may well have gotten some assistance from someone in their network.

Caregivers Need the Help of Others

Having a broad network is a key component to being a successful family caregiver, avoiding feeling constant stress or being at risk for burnout.

To keep your network happy and supportive, it is important to show them your appreciation regularly.

When those who assist you feel their efforts were noticed and appreciated, they will want to stay involved.

Showing gratitude does not only improve the well-being of the person who receives the thanks but also the person who is giving thanks.

Caregivers will find that when they give praise to people in their caregiving network, they will feel happier too.

Who In Your Network Will You Thank?

Our caregiving networks can be rich with a wide assortment of helpers and supporters or maybe just a small number of caring people.

The depth of your network will depend on your situation and the scope of needs that have to be met.

The longer we are family caregivers the more likely we are providing around-the-clock care, meeting many needs for our senior loved ones.

It is especially important to have a large network when care needs are that significant.

Who might you have in your network, supporting you as a family caregiver?

  • Hopefully your network will include family members, such as children or siblings, of you and your senior loved one.
  • You should have someone from your senior’s healthcare team that you can call upon anytime it is needed.
  • Home helpers, paid caregivers, community agencies that can support your needs, transportation assistance, and even local delivery people to bring you what you need.
  • Emotional supporters should be at the ready for you, to lend an ear or a shoulder on which to cry. That might be a family member, close friend, or a faith provider.
  • You should have someone who can sit with your senior loved one, such as a companion (paid or volunteer), so that you can go to the doctor yourself, get your hair done, or just have lunch with a friend.
  • Your network should include people who can provide socialization to your senior loved one, such as longtime friends, clubs, respite programs, or children.
  • You should have a responsible party or parties available to you, either from an organization or a paid group, who can give you respite for a weekend or longer so you can take a much needed break.
  • You should also seek out support groups that can give you not only emotional support and friendship but knowledge about what you face as a caregiver.

It takes time to build a network so it doesn’t appear overnight. You might like to read our article 10 Steps for Caregivers to Build a Strong and Effective Network if you’re not sure how to do it.

Time of Giving Thanks

Once you have your network functioning, you will realize just how important these people are in your life — and what they mean to the care you provide your senior loved one. How many times you will call upon them even if only just to have a ‘real conversation’ some days.

They will be invaluable to you in one way or another throughout the year.

This time of the year is a great time to tell them exactly how important they are to you.

A thank you will cement your relationship and may make the difference in how appreciated they feel so that they will continue to support you whenever needed in the future.

We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the day that, though we think about how special the people in your network are to your caregiving life, we don’t always say it out loud.

During this season of Thanksgiving, you might want to take the opportunity to express your thanks to these special people.

Showing Appreciation

You probably already have thoughts about how you would like to say thanks to your loved ones, but just in case you need some inspiration, here are some tips about new ways to give your gratitude!

  1. Write a note. You can always get a special occasion card that will say thanks for you but add a personal note telling them about special things that they do for you that touches your heart or just gets you through some days. Everyone would love to receive a personal, handwritten message that shows how much you care.
  2. Purchase a gift certificate to include in your card. A movie or dinner gift card or a gift certificate to their favorite place such as a coffee shop. You can usually pick this up at the grocery or drug store which you visit every week so doesn’t require a special trip. You can get a gift card when you go to the pharmacy to fill prescriptions.
  3. Make a gift basket. It need not be big, but include a few small items including bath salts, hand sanitizer, calming tea, hot cocoa, sachets, candy, or any items that are there favorites that will combine to give them a pick me up or a quick rest!
  4. Give them their favorite book and add a short note in the book jacket to express your appreciation.
  5. Give them a massage coupon to a local masseuse.
  6. Make them a movie gift basket including a a special DVD, popcorn (maybe a fun flavored variety), box of candy and other treats for a fun night in!
  7. Homemade cookies, dessert, soup, casserole or something special made with love!
  8. If you are crafty, make something that evokes a memory, such as a picture frame with favorite photo, a knit scarf, a bookmark, or some other item from your home to theirs. Perhaps you could even make a holiday ornament for the tree! If you like to do something fun, you could make some hand scrolled mugs filled with calming tea like I have done in the photo at the top of the post.
  9. Give them a CD of their favorite music. Perhaps a holiday collection, a comedy tape or church hymns.  Whatever will inspire them through song.
  10. Find an appropriate piece of jewelry that has meaning such as guardian angel pin, a car angel ornament, or a bracelet. It doesn’t have to be expensive just picked with love.

You might be thinking, “those are all things I wish someone would give to me”! That is exactly the point.

If you would like receiving it, and would feel appreciated if it were given to you, then you are on the right track!

You shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time or money finding these items either. You can get most of these things easily either at the grocery, pharmacy, or our own store, The Shop at Senior Care Corner®, where we have a selection of items for caregivers. You might even find something to give yourself!

Your love will show through in any gift your choose!

Feeling gratitude & not expressing it is like wrapping a present & not giving it.

~~William Arthur Ward

 

 

 

Amazon Best Sellers in Caregiver Gifts

[amazon bestseller=”thank yous for caregivers” items=”8″ grid=”4″]

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″]

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!

Engaging with Our Senior Dads and Granddads on Father’s Day

We love, honor, and respect our fathers and celebrate them on Father’s Day.

Perhaps we cook their favorite meal (or let them share their prowess on the grill), encourage them to sit back and relax, or visit to hear them regale us with their favorite memories of years past.

But what gift can family caregivers give the dad who is aging?

A tie no longer seems appropriate for the dad who no longer heads to work everyday and rarely will wear one to church on Sunday anymore.

How often have family caregivers heard this mantra from our senior loved ones, “I have everything I need”?

What is the best gift for dad?

Engaging Gifts for Senior Dads

Dads who are seniors may prefer a simple visit from family members and sharing the day together.

Naturally, we want to do just a bit more to show them how much we truly appreciate all they have done for us over the years and what they have meant in terms of our own growth by being good role models.

Here are some gifts that you can give to your elder dad to spend time in an enjoyable way and taking the time to engage:

 

  1. Participate in an activity he used to love to do with you, such as playing cards. Maybe he will find it easier using a large print card deck or one that is easier for him to hold in his stiff hands. Play a game and keep score. Bragging rights are important! The opportunity for socializing and reminiscing that sitting at a table playing even a simple game like Go Fish provides will be priceless.
  2. Pull out a family photo album from years past or make a new one with pictures you have been collecting. This is a great time to talk about family members, learn more about the family tree, and ask questions about his life. You could even journal his answers. You may be surprised at the tidbits you never heard!
  3. Install an app on his tablet or smartphone for fun like Snapchat or a game like Trivia. Teach him how to use it and have fun with the challenge and potential connections with others in the family.
  4. Set up music playlists with him incorporating some of his favorite songs. Talk about what kind of music he enjoyed in all phases of his life. Separate them into task lists such as Dinner Time music, Porch Sitting music, Get Up and Go music, Riding in the Car music, Bath Time music, or any other list that you decide together would be enjoyable or helpful for him throughout the day in a variety of scenarios. You might learn something about his life talking about what kinds of music he finds enjoyable or what challenges he has during his day when determining what types of lists he would find helpful.
  5. Invite family members, including great-grand and grand-kids, to a meal. Let your dad help plan the menu, set the table, and be the ‘host’ instead of being the one for whom others are caring. Keep the conversation going with the attention of the family focused on dad. Rejoice in the moment!
  6. Watch a ball game together. Talk about his memories of past games, relive when you played ball together (maybe he coached your little league team) or when you went to a professional sports team’s stadium. Do you have baseball cards from years ago? Did he have a favorite player or team?

You can certainly buy dad things he may really need like a new shirt or pair of shoes to mark the occasion, but taking the extra effort to engage will be appreciated by him — and you.

Take Advantage of the Moment

Family caregivers give love and affection every day, in every way, by caring for the senior men in their lives. You may be helping them with household chores or personal care tasks. You may be managing their finances for them or driving them around town to appointments.

Family caregivers perform a variety of tasks big and small for their senior loved ones.

These are all essential tasks and they do show how much you care for your dad, but in finding ways to give him one of these engaging gifts you will enjoy time spent together when sharing is pleasurable and not daily care that is a means to an end.

Time flies quicker than we realize. Pausing to engage with dad, focusing on him as a person and not just his need for care, is something you won’t regret in the future.

Happy Father’s Day to all the senior fathers and caregiving dads!

 




Local Hands-On Technology Resources — Family Caregiver Quick Tip

As family caregivers, we may feel strongly certain technology is just what our senior loved ones need to make their homes safer or healthier places for them to live — or maybe simply more enjoyable — but realize that will happen only if the technology is used.

How often do we give our loved ones yet another gift like a sweater or coffee mug only to have it set aside in a drawer, we suspect, only to have it pulled out when we visit?

We don’t want the same to happen when we give them a technology gift that could make a real difference in their lives. How do we avoid that?

Of course, it may not be a gift, since family caregivers are often the purchasers of technology for their senior loved ones.

If only there was a way we could introduce seniors to technology and let them spend a little hands-on time before a purchase decision was made. Trying before buying can give us confidence what we buy will provide benefits.

Sure, we can do that in some retail stores, but being surrounded by shoppers and “helpful” sales reps is not the best environment for testing.

That’s why we were thrilled to learn about local senior technology centers, which are in many communities, and invited to tour the Cobb County Assistive Technology Lab in Marietta, Georgia.

Assistive Technology Lab

We met Felicia Alingu, Outcomes Program Specialist with Cobb Senior Services, at Aging in America and were very impressed to hear about their Assistive Technology Lab (AT Lab). When she invited us to tour the facility, we jumped at the chance.

The Cobb AT Lab has several rooms, each with tech devices designed for a specific area of the house, including the family room, kitchen, and bathroom. We captured some if it in the pictures below.

 

In the AT Lab, seniors and caregivers can browse the different devices and learn how they work. They have created a nice atmosphere to experience how the tech works and how it might fit into the visitors’ homes — a great opportunity to try before you buy!

Not only were we impressed by the lab itself, but also learning from Felicia of the outreach, classes, and other activities available to seniors. While we are discussing the Assistive Technology Lab as an example of facilities around the nation, we plan to interview Felicia about their work for an upcoming edition of the Senior Care Corner® podcast.

Is There Something Similar Near Your Senior?

Yes, we realize most of you reading this don’t live in Cobb County, Georgia. With a little research, though, we found similar opportunities in communities across the US. Check with local senior agencies to learn if there is one nearby your senior and check it out yourself.

While you are in touch with a local senior organization, you might want to find out what other programs and benefits are available to your senior loved one. You just might find something they could use or an activity they would enjoy but is completely unknown to them.

Supporting Local Tech Demo Facilities

After seeing what the Cobb AT Lab is doing and what it can mean to seniors and family caregivers, we want make a pitch to those in a position to support them. Given the limited funding available to most community organizations and the cost of assistive and smart home technology, keeping facilities like the AT Lab up to date and relevant for seniors is difficult.

If you are with a tech company or retailer, we hope you see this as the opportunity it is to familiarize a new market segment with technology and what it can mean to their lives. Supporting the mission of these facilities with donations of money or products can — in addition to making a positive difference in communities — provide benefits through the education of a new group of consumers.

Please help them in their mission to help seniors and family caregivers!

 




 

What’s the Best Pet for a Senior Loved One with Dementia?

Companionship in the form of a four-legged friend can be a real lifeline for people who are aging, especially when dementia is present.

Throughout history, animals’ primary function has been utilitarian. They helped plow fields or transport passengers. Today domesticated animals have a strong connection for humans.

Pets bring friendship to seniors and their family caregivers at a time when a little extra love is sorely needed.

With so many older adults affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia — 5.7 million people, in fact, according to the latest data from the Alzheimer’s Association — the numbers of family caregivers and those with dementia who could benefit from pets is growing and will continue to rise.

Family caregivers can improve not only the quality of life for their senior with dementia but also their own caregiving experience when a home becomes pet-friendly!

Benefits of Pets

Both the person with dementia and their family caregivers know all too well the effect the disease progression has on their mood. Having a loving pet may put a positive spin on a person’s mood.

Research has shown that pets in the home can reduce our stress levels physically through oxytocin and endorphin changes. Reducing stress can parlay into lower blood pressure and heart rate too.

Naturally, this is true as long as the pet behaves well and their care isn’t in itself a stressor.

Some older adults suffer from depression and now more family caregivers do as well. Not surprisingly, pets have been shown to help reduce the presence of depression.

Receiving unconditional love and acceptance as well as a daily social interaction can help the symptoms of depression.

Pet Companionship Beneficial

Dementia can be socially isolating when withdrawing from social situations and favorite community activities becomes more frequent. Pets can reduce loneliness, one will give and get unconditional love and companionship.

Purposefulness comes when a pet requires someone to care for them each day. It could be a reason for your senior to get up in the morning and face each new day. A dog or cat needs to be fed and watered, walked outside, and provided a playmate with whom they can interact. Giving someone a reason for being can not be overrated when it may seem to them as though there is no other reason to go on.

Pets don’t judge. They don’t care when a question is asked ten times an hour. They don’t become frustrated when a person with dementia doesn’t act as they once did.

On the other hand, pets do encourage our senior loved ones to be active physically and to engage mentally. Their presence can lead to reminiscing about pets from the past or pals from childhood. Pets love hugs and laps and getting kisses from affectionate seniors.

Pets have been known to turn seniors’ frowns upside down!

One study found that having a pet present can lead to increased meal consumption in a person with dementia with a waning appetite. Improved mood can lead to a better appetite.

Which Type of Pets Are Best?

What type of pet is best for a senior with dementia?

Having just any pet may not be the answer family caregivers seek. A pet that is more trouble than benefit, is aggressive, or requires a lot of care such as grooming or medical attention will not be a welcome addition.

It will be important to consider any pet’s behavior and personality before you add him to the household.

Will the pet jump up or bark incessantly at every squeak or outside noise? Will a small dog be underfoot causing a tripping hazard?

Will the attention-seeking pet exacerbate anxiety in a person with dementia or is the pet capable of lowering anxiety in the house?

The pet can be a dog, cat, fish, or bird. Any type of pet might be enjoyed, not just the four-legged kind. Actually, consider how much care your senior with dementia can handle and how much you will have to do when selecting a pet.

Conversations with a Pet Expert : Senior Care Corner Radio Show includes many tips from an expert to help you determine what type of pet will suit your family.

Specially Trained Dogs

Dogs in particular can be trained as companion pets and certified as service dogs for people with dementia.

Many trained pets are used to provide comfort to people with dementia basically primarily as companions.

Service dogs can be specifically trained to retrieve items, remind seniors to take their medications, warn them as alarms are sounding in the home, remind them to eat, wake them at certain times of day, or guide them home when walking. Carrying a service dog ID and registration card will be helpful.

Many family caregivers ask how to get one of these dogs for their senior loved one. The answers vary by situation, as it depends on where you live and how much time you have to invest in the process. There is no one national organization that certifies service pets for people with dementia in the US. It seems it is most likely an individual site or training center will best be able to provide training and a credential for your pet.

Learning More

There are some groups that you can check into to learn more about pets as companions or trained service pets. Here are a few to start:

  • Pets for the Elderly (charity that financially helps seniors get pets for companionship, doesn’t train dogs)
  • Power Paws (breeds and trains dogs, located in Arizona)  are a few to check out.

You can train your own pet by bringing them to a trainer or site near you for training and certification. Search for a professional group that trains dogs in your area to help train your pet or one where you can select a pet that is already trained. You will likely have to be involved in some training yourself to acclimate the pet to your family’s living environment.

There are therapy dogs that are trained to visit facilities in order to provide pet companionship and love. They are trained in obedience, not to startle others or get startled by groups, and to not jump on elders. These pets usually visit at regular intervals and can brighten a senior’s day but don’t live with them or live in the facility.

There is also a program in the UK that trains special dogs called dementia dogs. The dogs are trained to interact with people with dementia. They can distract them when getting agitated, remind them to take their pills and generally help keep the person with dementia calm and occupied.

Is A Virtual Pet for You?

 

In this age of technology, interacting with a pet can be virtual. There are many forms of technology devices that family caregivers can adopt to help keep seniors with dementia engaged.

There are the ‘robotic’ pets such as Joy For All (affiliate link) cats and now dogs manufactured by Hasbro. They are battery operated and lifelike. They respond to your senior’s petting, make appropriate sounds such as purring when petted, and move similarly to a live pet. The best part is they don’t need feeding or vet appointments.

Another robotic pet option is Paro from Japan. It provides companionship with the need for care. We anticipate more of these tech pets to come in the future.

There are virtual pets that can be engaged on a tablet such as GeriJoy from care.coach. Your senior can talk to this virtual pet because it gives real conversation through their own avatar with human caregivers from afar in control of the service. This caregiver can adapt to the senior prompting the conversation too.

Perfect Petz (affiliate link) are another battery powered option that requires no care other than petting and brushing as desired. It is a lifelike pet of your choosing (cat or dog). It appears to breathe, can be hugged, and has its own bed to sit with your senior.

There is no doubt that pets can add much to the household of a family challenged by dementia. Luckily there are many options that can meet your needs.

Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms. ~ George Elliott