End of Life Decisions: Has Your Senior Loved One Made Them? Have You?

What kind of healthcare treatment would you and your senior loved ones want to be given at the end of your life — or would you want any at all?

End of life care is something about which most adults in the US have heard and maybe even considered — thanks in part to television shows — with many having also heard about living wills.

Most have not taken things past the “thinking about it” stage, however, to having serious conversations with family or actually doing something to ensure their wishes are honored.

Enter National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), an effort to educate and inspire individuals to formally express their wishes regarding healthcare and encourage healthcare providers and facilities to honor those wishes.

We thought this year’s NHDD would be a good time to revisit an episode of the Senior Care Corner® Radio Show from a few years ago, one in which we talk about NHDD and use it as a springboard to encourage family caregivers and their senior loved ones to have their own family healthcare decisions day.

Not only is it important for family caregivers to ensure senior loved ones express their wish, but the caregivers need to make their own end of live decisions.

Family Healthcare Decisions

First, I guess we should explain what we mean by the “healthcare decisions” families should discuss.

We’re talking about the type of care an individual wishes to receive — and the care she or he does not wish to receive — when potentially at the end of life, at a time when ongoing life depends on the measures performed.

Examples of these measures include receiving CPR, being placed on a ventilator, or being fed via a tube.

Why are we taking about this now?

Putting aside that we frequently talk about the need for living wills, advance directives, and the family conversations that help make those decisions, we want to get families planning to have these discussions when they gather from their scattered homes for family spring and summer events.

Listen to the feature segment in this episode for our discussion of family healthcare decision making, including reasons why it’s important and how families may approach the conversation.

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Preparing for the Family End of Life Care Discussion

Preparation can help families better face the elephant in the room and have a more successful discussion of end of life options.

  • Learn about what “advance directives” means. We don’t just mean the term but, more importantly, the implications for those making and formalizing the decisions, as well as their family members.
  • Research what is required in your state, or states for dispersed family members, and which decisions are covered.
  • Gain an understanding of various means of life support to give a better understanding of what is involved with the decisions to be made.
  • Consider consulting an elderlaw attorney or other legal reference source to determine what the necessary forms look like, what information is needed to complete them, and the steps to take to ensure they are enforceable.

Catch the full discussion in this episode of the Senior Care Corner Radio Show.

Additional Healthcare Decisions Resources

We hope you like this trip back to a prior episode of the Senior Care Corner Show and find it helpful to you and your family. We have also prepared this transcript – so you can follow along with the recording or read it at your convenience.

 




Honoring Veterans With Access to Benefits They Have Earned

We are reminded on Veterans Day to honor those who served us by serving in the United States Armed Forces.

We honor those men and women who served with parades, events, monuments, and by simply saying “thank you” when we see them – – and meaning it.

Veterans Day Parade, Savannah GA

There are many other, more personal ways, we can honor our own loved ones who are Veterans.

We want to discuss one way of honoring them you may not have considered, one which in many cases will provide them something that helps them live better for years to come.

Ensuring our senior loved one who are Veterans are aware of the benefits available to them through the Veterans Administration (VA) and utilizing them, if appropriate, both honors their service and helps them in their everyday lives.

Majority of Veterans Not Using VA Benefits

According to a recent report from the VA, less than half (48%) of all Veterans are using even one of the VA benefits or services available to them as of 2016. That, though, is an increase from 38% in 2007.

Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC

Only 21% of Veterans utilized multiple VA benefits and services in 2016.

When you consider there were more than 20 million Veterans in 2016, that means a lot of men and women are not taking advantage of the benefits available to them.

These statistics don’t even consider the many millions of surviving spouses and children of Veterans, who have served their nation and us in their own way. They are also entitled to certain benefits due to the service of their Veteran.

In the mini-podcast below, we discuss helping senior loved ones who are Veterans or otherwise entitled to VA benefits to understand and, if appropriate, seek the benefits available to them.

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

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Additional Information from the Mini-Podcast

In the mini-podcast, we discuss statistics from the 2010 National Survey of Veterans. This is the most recent survey performed by the VA and can be found here if you are interested in learning more.

Also, we made several mentions of our conversation with Victoria Collier, an Elder Law attorney who joined us for a previous podcast, Conversation with an Elder Law Attorney – Insights for Family Caregivers.

 

We hope you find this information helpful, as it can be particularly gratifying when we assist senior loved ones in learning about benefits they might not be aware are available to them especially our brave veterans.

 

 




 

Tech for Senior Independence — Conversation with MobileHelp® on Senior Care Corner® Podcast

We have been advocates for technology solutions that support the ability of seniors to successfully age in place since we started Senior Care Corner®.

That includes technology that enables family caregivers to provide the level of care they want while still having time to meet their own needs.

We are not advocating technology for the sake of technology, but because we understand there are many things it can do for seniors in making their lives better, some now but even more in coming years.

Not everyone sees that and many tech companies are newcomers to that vision.

Tech Companies ‘Finding’ the Senior Market

When we saw the needs of seniors being overlooked when we would cover CES® each year, we told tech companies they were making a mistake in assuming older adults wouldn’t buy or use their innovations.

So many times we were told by “experts” and family members of seniors that “older adults won’t use smartphones” and more. Now we are hearing just the opposite, which is reflected in surveys — not to mention observation of older adults everywhere we go.

Now even the largest technology companies are recognizing the potential sales they would be missing by not targeting the senior market. Some are designing products for seniors, but many more are realizing that seniors can and will use the same products they developed with younger consumers in mind.

Many of the products and ideas we have seen and heard will provide real benefits to seniors, but others seem to be solutions in search of problems. Not every innovation is successful, of course.

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

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Some Tech Companies Never Needed to ‘Find’ the Senior Market

There are a number of technology companies that never had to find the senior market or realize older adults have real needs that tech can help them meet.

We have encountered and reported on several of these, smaller companies typically started out of a desire by their founders to solve a problem they observed while caring for, or just being with, older family members.

Theirs are not solutions in search of problems, but products developed as labors of love to solve a real problem.

One such company is MobileHelp®, a Florida-based company that says it is America’s leading provider of mobile personal emergency response technology.

Rather than tell you what they do, we will let you hear them explain in their own words. Five years ago we interviewed Chris Otto, who was MobileHelp’s VP of Product Development at the time and is now Senior VP of the Healthcare Division. You can hear that interview as part of an earlier podcast (also linked below). Chris provided us a great introduction to the company, their approach, and their innovative products.

Dennis Boyle, MobileHelp President & COO

Since then we have been following MobileHelp, watching as their products and services evolved, including hearing their presentations at CES. When we heard they have an innovative new product for seniors, we reached out to them to learn more.

We are pleased to be able to share with you our recent conversation with Dennis Boyle, MobileHelp’s President and Chief Operating Officer. He caught us up on what they have been doing and introduced us to the MobileHelp Smart, their mobile medical alert system in a smart watch.

We enjoyed speaking with Dennis and appreciate him taking time out of his schedule to educate us — and you — about the MobileHelp Smart.

Links Mentioned in this Episode

  • For more information about the MobileHelp Smart and their other devices, visit the MobileHelp website
  • To get more information about purchasing a MobileHelp device by phone, call 800-800-1710

 

We hope you enjoyed this episode of the Senior Care Corner Podcast and found the conversation with Dennis to be as informative as we did.

 

 

 




 

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!

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.

 




 

Elder Orphans — Raising Family Caregiver Awareness on the Senior Care Corner® Podcast

Millions of older adults receive care and support from loved ones. For many, it’s those family caregivers who enable them to age in place successfully.

But more than 20% of current seniors — and even higher percentages of future seniors — don’t have spouses, partners, or children to care for or about them.

In addition, many other seniors have family members who live a long distance away or are estranged. Either way, they aren’t around to provide the caregiving many of older loved ones need.

In an unfortunate irony, many who will face this situation in the future are — or will be — family caregivers themselves, providing for the needs of their parents or other senior loved ones.

What are these “elder orphans” to do when they need help with those things, big and small, they can no longer do effectively for themselves?

In this episode of the Senior Care Corner® Podcast, we want to help raise awareness and let current and future elder orphans know there are many others facing challenges similar to theirs.

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

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Raising Awareness

Raising awareness of elder orphans is important, first, because many of us may know one who could use some help and not realize it. Understanding their situation is a step toward connecting them with what they need.

Promoting awareness in family caregivers and others who be elder orphans in the future enables them to start planning to meet the needs family caregivers might otherwise provide, things they might not otherwise consider in advance, such as these.

  • Determining who would care for them or where they would go if something happened to make them no longer able to care for themselves.
  • Establishing a network of people with whom they can communicate and socialize to help avoid isolation.
  • Arranging transportation for activities such as shopping, healthcare appointments, social activities, and more, should the elder orphan no longer have the ability or desire to drive.
  • Naming a healthcare proxy, someone to make medical decisions should the elder orphan become unable to do so.
  • Setting up emergency procedures, such as someone who will check in to ensure the elder orphan is okay, such as after a storm, during a heatwave, or simply after time has past without any interaction.

There are many more things current and future elder orphans should consider doing in advance to help them age successfully.

Conversation with Carol Marak

Carol Marak

When we decided to focus a podcast episode on elder orphans, we knew a conversation with Carol Marak was the only way to do it.

It is through social media interactions with Carol that we first learned of this hidden minority among our growing senior population. Finally, we got a chance to meet her at Aging in America this year, where she shared her insights as part of a panel.

After being a family caregiver to her own parents, Carol realized “there is no one who will do that for me.” Since then, she has researched, written, and spoken on the topic of elder orphans.

Carol also created a Facebook group for elder orphans, a place where members can interact and share experiences with others who understand what they are facing.

Links from This Episode

 

We look forward to sharing more about elder orphans in the future and hope you will check back with Senior Care Corner often for future podcasts and other articles.

 




Transforming Family Caregiving — Conversation with Seniorlink on the Senior Care Corner® Podcast

Family caregiving, as we have long discussed, is often a thankless, solitary labor of love for those providing care for senior loved ones.

The tremendous contributions of family caregivers have likewise failed to get their deserved recognition from the healthcare system or government agencies and officials.

None of that ruffles family caregivers, of course, as they are committed to caring. Besides, between caring for their senior loved ones and everything else going on in their lives, family caregivers often don’t have time to think about such things.

Flying under the radar like this, though, has meant family caregivers and the loved ones for whom they care have not been getting support they could use, support that could readily be justified based on the benefits our healthcare system realizes from their family caregiving.

In this episode of the Senior Care Corner® podcast, we’re pleased to explain two examples of how that may be changing.

  • Our family caregiver interest topic for the episode is a discussion of the RAISE Act, which became law earlier this year.
  • We’re excited to be sharing a conversation with Jay Patel of Seniorlink, a company that is transforming family caregiving.

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

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RAISE Act

In January, 2018, the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage Family Caregivers Act of 2017 became law after bipartisan sponsorship and support in Congress.

The RAISE Act, as it is (fortunately) better known, is a signal that those at the highest levels of the US government are taking notice of the contributions and needs of family caregivers.

As you will hear in our discussion on the podcast, the RAISE act doesn’t directly make changes that help meet the needs of family caregivers or the seniors for whom they care, but it’s an important first step that will hopefully result in future actions by government agencies and/or Congress.

Conversation with Jay Patel of Seniorlink

We first encountered Seniorlink at CES®, where we had an enlightening conversation with Tom Reilly, the company’s President and CEO. What we learned at CES was enough to get us excited about what Seniorlink is doing.

Jay Patel

After hearing more at Aging in American and getting chances to chat with Tom and Jay Patel, Seniorlink’s Clinical Transformation Officer, we knew we had to share their story with you and asked Jay to join us in a conversation we recorded for this podcast.

Who is Seniorlink? They do a good job of explaining it concisely on their website:

Seniorlink builds care collaboration solutions that combine human touch and technology to integrate and activate the entire care team, including case managers, care providers, family caregivers, and patients, resulting in high-quality, person-centered care and improved outcomes at a lower cost. 

As followers of Senior Care Corner know, our mission is all about enabling family caregivers to provide the best care possible to their senior loved ones while also caring for their own needs. A key focus area of ours is technology that improves the lives of seniors and family caregivers. It’s not surprising, then, that we are excited about the work of Seniorlink.

We hope you enjoy our conversation with Jay. We plan to follow the work of Seniorlink closely as they transform care and family caregiving, with updates to come in future articles and podcasts.

Links from This Episode

Stay Tuned!

We hope you enjoy this reboot episode of the Senior Care Corner Podcast and find it informative.

Stay tuned for future episodes and check back regularly to read our articles in the meantime or signup in the box at the upper right on our website to receive our twice-monthly updates. We ask no information other than your email address, will use it only to send the updates, and WILL NOT provide it to anyone else.

 




 

Conversation with Health Tech Innovator MOCACARE on the Senior Care Corner® Show

Technology with the potential to help our seniors live healthy, safe, and comfortable lives is something for which Senior Care Corner® is always on the lookout to keep family caregivers informed.

MOCAheart really caught our eye at CES® because that definition fits it well.

Many seniors — and family caregivers — can benefit from the ability to monitor heart health simply and conveniently in the comfort of home.

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Innovative Approach to Home Heart Monitoring

SCC mocaheart screenshotWhile there are already devices seniors can use in their homes to take measurements to track heart health, they often sit unused, leaving our senior loved ones at risk for the health problems tracking is meant to reveal.

That leaves an opening for devices that give seniors the ability to easily perform their own monitoring and tracking, avoiding the need to visit the doctor’s office each time.

We were skeptical so tried MOCAheart ourselves and found it performs as advertised and presents results in straightforward terms when paired with their free mobile app.

Our senior testers agreed after trying it themselves so we want to share it with other family caregivers.

Our MOCAheart Conversation

Naama post picIn this Senior Care Corner Show we’re pleased to share our conversation with Naama Stauber Breckler, MBA, the Chief Operating Officer of MOCACARE, the developer of MOCAheart.

We enjoy hearing the stories that drive innovation and Naama did not disappoint, telling us of the need that led to MOCAheart and the development of more solutions to come.

When you listen to our chat, you’ll hear Naama describe how to use MOCAheart, the feedback the device and app together provide, and some of the feedback they’ve received from a range of clients.

One feature we really like is the ability for the senior to arrange for monitoring results be sent, at the senior’s option, to family members or healthcare providers, adding to peace of mind.

We were impressed to learn of the lifetime support MOCACARE offers to those with devices, along with the ability to purchase at online retailers such as Amazon.com as well as directly on the MOCACARE website.

We hope you’ll find our conversation with Naama as interesting as we did and will check out MOCAheart for yourself if your senior loved one — or you — could benefit from the insights it provides.

News Items in this Episode

  • HHS Report Outlines Problems, Potential of Telemedicine
  • High Tech Helps Aging Drivers
  • Will Unloading Shoes Help Your Arthritic Knees?

Don’t miss Kathy’s quick tip on senior immunization time.

Links Mentioned in This Episode

Tablet Tailored to Seniors’ Needs – Conversation with grandPad on the Senior Care Corner® Show

Technology that connects seniors to their families, friends, healthcare providers, and the world around them is increasingly important to successful aging in place.

For many seniors, that technology will be the same smartphones, tablets and computers used by younger generations.

Others, though, have needs best met by devices that are safe, secure, and straightforward to use. They may not have tech-savvy friends or family near them, so their devices need to work without regular “tech support” to be useful and used.

But is there such a device?

We didn’t think so before we saw grandPad at CES. What we saw impressed us enough to want to share it with you in this episode of the Senior Care Corner® Show.

grandPad for Seniors

The feature segment of this episode is a conversation with Dr. Kerry Burnight, grandPad’s Chief Gerontologist, who has seen firsthand how her patients have benefited from being reconnected with family and friends via grandPad.

In our discussion with Kerry, you will learn about the effort that went into the development of grandPad, which started with a focus on what was important to seniors in such a device.

As she explains, that led to the development of a device with features different from other mobile devices in the market. grandPad:

  • works right out of the box, with no setup or any other steps needed other than turning it on
  • comes pre-loaded with the essential apps and services seniors need to stay connected without any clutter, spam, or distractions
  • keeps seniors out of reach of those who would use digital connections to scam seniors out of their savings
  • comes with a very helpful and always available support team that ensures each senior’s grandPad provides what they need

News Items in This Episode

  • Redefining Health and Well Being in Older Adults
  • Smarter Ways to Teach Family Members Medical Skills
  • Alzheimer’s May Hamper Ability to Perceive Pain

This episode’s quick tip addresses traveling with our senior loved ones.

Links Mentioned in this Episode

  • grandPad’s website and grandpad.net
  • For those who would rather call: (800)704-9412

 

We hope you find this episode informative and will share it with other family caregivers.

Are there other caregiving topics you would like us to cover on the Senior Care Corner Show? If so, contact us and let us know or post a comment on our Facebook page.