I’m one of those geographically removed daughters who care for their aging parents from afar. Sure, I am fortunate in that I can go and visit and be with my parents several times a year. Skype is a godsend. And, I do a lot for them from thousands of miles away: I pay the bills and manage their finances, talk to doctors about each visit and help make decisions, supervise household repairs, order supplies, and hire and supervise some wonderful caregivers. Every day I am doing one or more of these activities in support of their life and care. But, sometimes at the end of the day, I must admit, I realize that I have been so focused on the details of managing their care and concerns that I haven’t even made the time to call and talk to them. As my kids would say, that sucks. Because I really love them and miss them and am so grateful that I can still talk with them. But, I’m not there with them every day. Someone else is. Continue reading
By Leslie Eckford
I know. It’s a prototype, it’s not on the market yet, it may be years before it is available to the public and who knows what the cost will be. But, I am very excited to see the Scalevo Wheelchair, designed in collaboration by students at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the Zurich University of the Arts. It is thrilling to imagine how life will change for people in wheelchairs who will be able to utilize all stairs, even spiral staircases.
I am already picturing this as a potential game changer for some elderly living at home. Those of us who have struggled to make an old, stair-filled home manageable for family with poor mobility know that every option has its trade-offs. It is very expensive to remodel rooms and bathrooms. Adding stairlifts on stairs with landings can be complicated and pricey. Home elevators are great if they already exist in the residence, but the cost of retrofitting an elevator to an existing home is way out of the realm of possibility for most.
So every option that opens the door to making the choice to stay in one’s home as you age is a sign of progress. Take a look at the video of this wheelchair in action below. From what I have read, they have already increased its ability to go up and down stairs at a faster rate than is shown here. It brings many questions to mind: will it be equipped for a second person to manage the controls if the person in the wheelchair cannot independently? Will it work on carpeted stairs? Is it easier to use on non-pavement surfaces, such as grass, than a traditional wheelchair? And, of course, the question that we all want to know, how will the cost compare to a regular wheelchair?
Assisted Living: Starting the Conversation
By Amanda Lambert
In all the years I have worked with older adults I have never heard anyone say: “I think it is time to go to assisted living!” The idea of going to assisted living almost always arises from an elder’s children, a doctor or even perhaps someone like me, a geriatric care manager who will make the suggestion realizing all the while that the client may object.
So, under what circumstances should a discussion of assisted living take place, and equally important, how should this discussion take place? Here are some typical circumstances under which the idea of assisted living is considered:
• Conditions in the home have become unsafe due to a person’s inability to manage everyday functions.
• A medical event leads to hospitalization, possible subsequent rehabilitation with a recommendation that a person not return home (or at least not return home without 24 hour care.)
• Private caregiving in the home becomes unaffordable to the extent that the cost equals or exceeds the cost of assisted living.
Your chances of avoiding the nursing home are directly related to the number of children you have,”
– Atul Gawande, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End Continue reading
One of the best things about people who are good caregivers is how much they enjoy the company of the elders that they care for. Sadly, there are some people who say, “Oh these old folks, they’re so cute aren’t they?” They are not the ones that I mean. I am talking about the people who really stop and listen to elderly people, ask questions and want to know more.
We spend a lot of time here at MindfulAging thinking about how as a society we are possibly going to handle the aging flood tide that is already upon us and the care that some of them will need. At the same time, we are at an unprecedented time in history when we are surrounded by so many amazing people who happen to be old…really old. That is something to appreciate. Unfortunately, too many of them are sequestered and isolated from the community, a wasted resource.
As I read the link below, I wondered what it would be like if more of these incredible, articulate aging people would have the opportunity to talk to more groups of younger people, not just medical students. Of course, it is critical for the medical community to really get it that old people are real people that need their care and fine tuned attention. But imagine a regular program like this in all levels of public schools and colleges, businesses and local governing boards. It’s time to take this show on the road.
Reading this story also brought to mind some wonderful people in their 90’s to mind. Tell us about your favorite, inspiring 90-something year old. What valuable knowledge have they shared with you that they could they share with medical students and beyond?
Interesting article, but only mentions in passing that many older adults have difficulty using this technology, and some absolutely won’t be able to due to dementia. I doubt that this technology will make a big dent in the growing need for in home caregivers to provide essential services like bathing, cooking, cleaning, transportation and companionship. It could possibly delay that need for some people by providing a safety net while seniors are still able enough to take advantage of the technology. Time will tell!
Shari Cayle, 75, called “Miracle Mama” by her family ever since she beat back advanced colon cancer seven years ago, is still undergoing treatment and living alone.
Recently I was talking with the wife of an elderly fellow who needs a good caregiver. She had been searching for just the right person to help her husband. After meeting with all the wrong candidates for the job, she was relieved that she had finally found the right person with just the skills that she knew would be a good fit for her family member. When I mentioned that she needs to get a criminal background check on this candidate, she sighed. “I don’t even know how to do that. And, do I have to tell the person? Maybe they won’t want to work for us if I have to do that.”
Unfortunately, I can tell you firsthand how much you may regret it if you do not take this precaution. I relied solely on a glowing recommendation and reference in hiring a caregiver for my family which resulted in our family being the victim of multiple crimes. I will go into greater detail about this harrowing experience in the caregiving book that Amanda Lambert and I are currently writing. But, you can take my word for it now, Continue reading
It’s back. Federal Appeals Court revives the minimum wage and overtime pay for home care workers.
Much of this we already know, but a good reminder that until a cure or treatment is found for Alzheimer’s, we can at least improve our health every day.