Technology that can Help the Elderly

While a lot of technology can simplify seniors’ lives, it can also be intimidating to adopt for people growing up without the same technological innovations that we value today. Some technology gadgets for seniors are particularly popular such as:

Tablet PCs: Many technology companies like Microsoft, Apple and now Google have tablets out that have applications that seniors can enjoy like games, free limited newspaper access, internet surfing and videos.

E Readers: If the elder enjoys reading, but has difficulty seeing the text because of vision problems, E Readers are perfect for them. Some E Readers are designed for simplicity and have the ability to make the text any size so that vision is no longer a problem.

Wii: Video games systems like the Nintendo Wii give seniors the capability of enjoying the same sports that they did when it was safer for them to. The senior and their helper may enjoy activities like yoga, golf, tennis and bowling.

Cell Phones: For older seniors that still prefer the traditional land line telephone, think simple. There are many smartphones out that are unnecessarily complicated and can frustrate seniors when attempting to use them. Pay as you go phones are usually very simple, older models can be easier to use than the newer models.

It does not take very much training to use these devices; today’s technologically savvy youth may be able to give the seniors a thorough overview over any of these electronics.  If you would like to find a volunteer to help seniors to use these devices, search for volunteers in your area and sign up.

The Elder Helpers Code of Ethics

1. Responsibility must be practiced by always making the best decision to benefit society. We strive to create the best relationships with volunteers and elders, believing that it is our duty to ensure the continuation of our program through your satisfaction.

2. Compassion is at the heart of our operations because we want to make the world a better place and improve the lives of elders across the world.

3. Trust in every aspect of our operations with the public and with respect to international laws and regulations. We not only expect to meet our legal obligations as a non-profit varying across countries, but we have a very high standard for ethics upheld by trust in our daily operations.

4. Generosity of all supporters and staff of our organization which allows us to consistently pursue our mission of connecting elders with volunteers desiring to help them. Without the donations from our respected supporters, our program would not be capable of its consistent growth and expansion.

5. Honor the different cultures, beliefs and practices varying from region to region across the world. Operating on a multi-national scale encourages us to be accepting of all beliefs and backgrounds to provide care for anyone who needs it regardless of their lifestyle.

6. Promise to our supporters that with their help, we will continue to provide assistance to those in need. This means that while you or a loved one is planning for retirement, having access to free care and companionship is one less factor that you need to worry about. Continued support of our mission will ensure the same thing for our volunteers’ future and generations to come.

7. Excellence is put forth in all of our strategies to improve the program for elders and voluntee­­rs. Our volunteers may donate their time to our program, but we encourage a high degree of quality in their work because it helps you to have a more enriching experience and we can achieve our mission.

8. Respect of all citizens, especially volunteers, supporters and the elderly affiliated with our organization is vital. We passionately believe that treating everyone with a high degree of respect is fundamental to our operations.

1. Respect the elderly person.

Always be respectful to the elderly. Even though they have aged and may be losing their health, they are still people with emotions and ideas. Don’t judge them by their physical condition. Aging is simply a part of the natural cycle: you are born, you’re a kid, you grown into your teen years, adult years, and one day you will be elderly too. Have respect for them and their lives.

  • Don’t swear or say words which they may find inappropriate; having grown up in a different time, they may not take this lightly.

2. Help your loved one to cope with the loss of independence.

Encourage them to maintain friendships, stay active, develop new interests and keep in touch with other family members. Explain that the loss of independence is not a personal failing and rather just part of the natural cycle of life.

3. Encourage them to volunteer.

A recent study found that elderly people who volunteer are happier and healthier. This is especially true for elderly people who have chronic conditions. The feelings of being valued and needed as a volunteer can greatly improve the mental well-being and thus health of your loved one.

  • The benefits can be seen with as few as 2-3 hours per week of volunteering.

4. Visit frequently.

Visiting will provide an emotional connection and improve the mental well being of your loved one. Visiting will also allow you as the caregiver to check up on their health and well-being. You can see whether they have been watering the plants, opened their mail or show any bruises, all of which may signify that they need additional assistance. Get friends and family members to help.

5. Bring some of their personal belongings with them.

If they are moving to a senior center or into your home, bring some of their physical home with them. This will make them feel more comfortable and at home in their new surroundings and help them to cope with the big changes taking place for them.

6. Find areas of mutual interest.

Some younger people may mistakenly think they cannot connect with elderly people, but remember that they might also feel they cannot connect with you are your interests. Try to open your mind and find out what gives them joy. If you can’t share their interest at least you can share their excitement.

7. Try to keep things as unchanged as possible.

Many elderly people are uncomfortable and nervous about change, especially when they are moving out of their home. Try to keep everything as stable as possible. For example, you might bring their pet in with you if bringing your loved one home or bring their pet to the senior center with them if it is permitted.

8. Make them feel welcome and at home.

Try to get them to participate in the activities of the senior center or include them in activities in your home. Encourage them to be active participants in their environment.

  • You can also encourage them to get outside or take them outside for walks or other activities. This can help them to feel happier, especially if they suffer from depression.

  • You can even surprise them with gifts from time-to-time or hold parties for them as a way of keeping them involved.

9. Listen to their stories.

You may find them interesting and they can even help you navigate issues or situations in your own life. The elderly have a lifetime’s worth of experiences to offer, you can learn and improve your own life by listening and engaging with them. Find the beauty in their stories and learn from them.

  • This will also deepen the connection between you and can help them feel more connected to the world around them.

 

Taken from: WikiHow

Tips For Visiting Elderly Relatives During The Holidays

Elder care is a growing issue in society. Caregiving at a distance can be difficult, stressful and time-consuming. And often the only time caregivers see the loved one is on a family visit, more than not tied around a holiday. It is very noticeable when something is awry when visits are infrequent. This holiday season be aware of your older loved one’s physical and mental capacity and take notice of their environment. Whether visiting someone in senior care centers or at home, here are some tips to help.

Where do you start?

First use your senses. Observe with your eyes, ears, and with your senses of taste, touch and smell. Look at the house/apartment. Is it being kept up? Is the environment unsafe, unsanitary? Track the chores you do while there as they could point to services your loved one needs after you leave. Is there any thing obviously missing or large-scale new purchases? This could indicate some type of exploitation/abuse by others.

How can you tell if a loved one has been abused?

As a healthcare conference speaker, I often need to remind my audience members of their responsibility in the community. And watching out for abuse of elders is one such responsibility.

There are different types of abuse, some initiated by others and those of self-neglect. Again use your senses. Observe physical or sexual abuse — bruises, black eyes, welts, lacerations, and rope marks.

Is there a new best friend around? Does a home care worker refuse to allow you to see your loved one alone?

Emotional abuse — is a loved one being emotionally upset or agitated; being extremely withdrawn and non communicative or self report being verbally or emotionally mistreated? These are signs that something is up.

Is mom or dad just slowing down or is there more going on?

It could be natural old age setting in or there could be signs of bigger health issues going on. Has there been excessive weight gain, weight loss, decline in general hygiene? How is their strength and balance? Does it prevent them from doing things? Will they accept help, say when you go to a mall and offer to get a wheelchair? Check for dehydration or undernourishment. Are your parents eating nutritious meals regularly? Are they able to prepare meals?

Are they wearing inappropriate clothes? Is their clothing inadequate? Check that they have all of their medical aids — eyeglasses, hearing aids, dentures.

Look for signs of declining memory. Are loved ones placing items in wrong places, missing appointments? Are they forgetful?

Check expiration dates on medications. Are loved ones forgetting to take medications? Can they afford their medications? Has the number of prescriptions increased significantly?

Signs of Financial Stress

Unopened mail could indicate memory problems, vision problems, or hint at financial problems. Sweepstakes circulars could indicate they or someone is responding to offers. Are there overdue bills? Are bill collectors calling or showing up at the house?

Check for any changes in the loved ones bank account. Check for any additional names on a bank signature card. Check their bank statements. Is there unauthorized withdrawal of funds?

What Do I Do If They Need Care?

First, there is a delicate art on how to communicate with an elder loved one. You want to enjoy the time you have with them and ease into the conversation. Gather information on community services that can meet their needs. Take notes of services, fees, waiting lists.

Schedule a visit with your elder’s physician during the time you are there. Identify a social support system for your loved one. This includes people they can call on such as friends, neighbors, clergy, and others in regular contact. Meet these people while you are there.

Even if loved ones are fine, advance planning can help you to avoid a crisis in the future. Take a medication inventory. Document the names of physicians. Make sure they have a living will and durable power of attorney. Know where to find their financial information.

Enjoy your time with an elderly parent, relative or friend this season but be watchful of their needs. They will not let on or ask for help. So be a good observer, listener, and friend.

Written by Anthony Cirillo.

Taken from: The Huffington Post

Top Board Games for seniors

What comes to mind when you think of board games? For many of us, it is fun and non-electronic games that we remember playing in our youth at school. Today, many board games exist that can be fun for people of all ages. We will share what we believe to be the best games for elders:

Scrabble: We are sure that you have heard of this classic game, scrabble consists of a series of small letters in the form of squares that the players can arrange to make words, in order to score points. It is fun to play on a rainy day with a good friend, or when volunteering for seniors or sharing time with a caregiver. 

Pictionary: The best thing about this game is the worse of an artist that you are, the more challenging that it can be. The friends for seniors can play without purchasing the game, by simply selecting random and well known words from the dictionary and drawing them within one minute to see if the other player can guess the object.

Charades: Because this game often goes off the table and can require extra space, some question its ‘authenticity’ as a board game. However, it is still a fun word-based game that operates like Pictionary, except you act the words instead of drawing.  Seniors should consult a medical professional before engaging in any physical activities.

Checkers: For some, checkers is a fun guessing game where the outcome is solely based on chance. For other more competitive and strategic players, it can be a game of strategy and skill. This game is enjoyable to people of all skill levels and is a timeless classic.

Backgammon: You can rest assured that the seniors knows about this classic board game as many people believe that it was invented over 5,000 years ago. The objective is very simple, move your pieces across the board determined by the roll of dice. The person that removes all of their pieces first wins.

Chess: This often seems like a profound strategy game that few people are good at , I have heard some of the most educated people that I know doubt their chess skills. That is because to be very good at the game, it requires memory and learning different ‘strategies’ like the Italian Game, the French or Sicilian Defense. It is not necessary to learn these, in fact, some find improvising the entire game more enjoyable to share with a good friend.

Card Games: How many card games do you know? There is almost never a good excuse to not learning another one. By learning new things, you can help preserve the elder’s memory and help them and yourself to feel a since of accomplishment by working together to learn something new. Learn about many different card games, by visiting this link.

Many of these board games for the elderly can be enjoyed both by seniors in need of assistance and their volunteer caregivers. They have been specifically chosen because they may help to improve memory in older adults by having to learn new things and think logically, or keeping home-bound seniors fit with Charades when providing home-care and companionship for the elderly.

Caregiver’s Guilt: Recognition and Acceptance

Every task in our lives with value carries with it some inherent challenges and problems. As students, we had the dreaded homework. If we chose to participate in sports, we had to practice, even when we did not wish to. As parents, we had those days when we really wished we had decided not to have children. If we did not do our homework, skipped practice, or took a break away from our children, we felt guilty. Guilt seemed to move on with us as the situation changed. 

Taking care of an elderly person, whether they are a parent, a friend, or someone for whom we have assumed responsibility is a valuable life experience. And, just as with any other experience with value, there are challenges and difficulties. Our responses to the daily activities we engage in as we provide for elder care needs can breed that old, familiar feeling of guilt. It helps if we recognize the reasons for elder guilt and accept them as normal.

Everyone has difficult days, and this is especially true for the elderly, who have aches and pains, may be lonely, or suffer from memory loss or confusion. Dealing with changing needs and moods can be difficult and, no matter how hard we try to stay positive, resentment can creep in and then we feel guilt. Such feelings are normal. Here are three ways you can deal with elder guilt:

  1. Be honest about your feelings. If you admit to them, that is the first step in moving on. It may help to discuss your feelings honestly with someone else involved in elder care.
  2. Take a break. Just as with child-rearing, sport practice, and homework, some time away from what is causing the stress and resultant guilt can help allay those feelings. You may only be able to step into the kitchen to retrieve a cool drink of water, but when you get there, take a deep breath and relax, then return.
  3. Learn to deal realistically with expectations – yours and the person for whom you are caring. You cannot meet every need and requirement for care, no matter how hard you try. Be happy with doing your best. Also, realize that some desires expressed by the elder in your care simply cannot be met. If they wish to eat something prohibited by their doctor that is a need you cannot meet. Be content to do what you can to keep the person in your care as healthy and comfortable as possible.

Elder care is a valuable life experience. However, there are days when everything feels overwhelming and we may not be proud of our response. When elder guilt sets in, admitting honestly to the feeling, taking a break, and realistically dealing with daily challenges and problems, can help those moments pass and make our elder care experience even more rewarding.

Thinking Beyond Revenue, our Equation to Happiness.

There is a saying, “don’t cry over anything that cannot cry back.” It essentially means, do not place an emphasis on material possessions because they do not matter more than non-material things. Compassion, care and genuine companionship for the elderly are more rewarding than fancy cars, houses or boats. Many people believe this, while many others do not. A person’s true response to this may be best understood in critical situations. There was once a story of a sinking boat containing several very expensive jet planes. Instead of attempting to save a single multi-million dollar object, the top priority was to save the few people on board. To us, this seems like common sense. Saving the people has a reward that cannot be purchased with money, cannot be achieved through collecting a mass of fancy possessions.

There are several people in the world that would choose to save the merchandise instead. They may perceive financial gain to be superior to emotional satisfaction. We are not saying that these people are wrong or bad, just that they may be missing out on our greater rewards. When we talk about our operations with people placing an emphasis on profits with elder care services, they often do not understand our motives. Something that I have been asked is, “Why would you charge just enough money to cover expenses, when you could be making ten times this amount?”

We believe that you understand, striving to provide for the best elder care services gives us an emotional reward greater than money. While some companies strive for revenue and profits, we want to set a good example for the affordable hospices or geriatric providers of the world. We believe that money can take a higher level of satisfaction out of some things in life, which is why we strive to be the option for non-profit elder care in your community by connecting volunteers helping elders. By being affiliated with our program, it means that you understand the greater rewards, seeing past the immediate financial or material gains.

Tips for Contacting Volunteers with Elder Helpers

Our non-profit organization connects the elderly with people desiring to help them. At this time, the people seeking assistance using the Elder Helpers service are required to contact volunteers by phone. We believe that this is the best method, because it is very personal, but sometimes those calling can have a difficult time finding what to say.

In this post, we will present tips for you to follow so that you can contact the caregiver that work best for you. We want you to not only be satisfied with finding the best volunteer for you, but also be happy when you are being helped by them. Follow these three simple and easy tips to make a smooth transition into the perfect volunteer – elder relationship:

It is very important to stay relaxed and friendly. When we speak with others, our own emotions tend to be reflected in the person we are speaking with. They react to how we are behaving around them, so just be calm and be yourself like you are calling a distant friend.

Do not get discouraged when contacting caregivers  if you do not get an immediate response, give them a few days. Because volunteers are contacted by phone, some people are not available at all times, may have disconnected phone numbers or other issues. We strive to maintain an accurate volunteer database for subscribers.

Remember that our volunteers are safe and have background screenings. They have joined our service because they truly desire to make a difference in their community. It is of the utmost importance of our organization to make  you happy, healthy and above all, safe.

Are you interested in assisting an elder near you? Click the following link to volunteer for the elderly in your community.

 

Depression & The Elderly

Depression in seniors in not uncommon, but that does not mean that it lacks seriousness or should be taken lightly. By definition, depression is a prolonged state of sadness that is different from grieving and can last a very long time. In this post, we will help you to understand if you or an elder you know has depression. It can sometimes be difficult to determine this, as many aging diseases or other aging traits can be perceived as symptoms of depression. The good news is that you can take steps to help reduce the stressors in the senior’s life or get them professional assistance to help them feel better.

Common symptoms of depression

Difficulty concentrating or making decisions

Fatigue and decreased energy

Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness

Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism

Restlessness/IrritabilityInsomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping

Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable

Overeating or appetite loss

Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings

What you can do to help

If the elder that you care for experiences these symptoms, it may alert you that they could have depression. You may instinctively want to help them or change it, but the best things that you can do for is being a faithful friend or seeking professional help. Sometimes people like to talk about their feelings, but in most cases, discussing it only makes it worse and can cause anger towards your attempts to help. If you know the person well enough that they like to openly express their feelings, you can subtly ask them if there is anything that they would like to talk about or that has been bothering them. To not be persistent or aggressive, if they want to talk they will when they are ready.

Depending on the severity, attempting to get an able-bodied homebound senior outdoors and interacting with other people may help. Doing light exercises like water aerobics can also do a great deal of good, provided that the senior is willing and their doctor enables the activity. If the depression is more serous and the senior denies the opportunity to do any activities because he or she no longer finds them enjoyable or ‘worthwhile’, you should contact a medical professional. Their extensive experience in having elderly patients with depression gives them expertise and the elder’s doctor may know private information about their health that could be linked to the depression.

Depression is not an easy thing watch a loved one experience. With a watchful eye and caring heart, it can be spotted early and its chances of getting worse can decrease. Just be careful not to assume too quickly or ask too many personal questions, as some of the symptoms can be the result of an aging disease and not depression. You should never, under any circumstances recommend or give the senior any medication that is not prescribed by their doctor. Medication is very complex and when it is taken in combination with others or not under professional circumstances, the consequences can be very negative physically for the senior and legally for the person that recommends the medication.

How to Help Aging Parents Stay Healthy: Elderly Resources for Healthy Living

When we say, “stay healthy,” we do not just mean eating a well balanced diet. Staying healthy can be synonymous with staying protected physically, being mentally happy and emotionally well balanced in this context. As we get older, the importance of this broad meaning increases, along with our decisions to become more health conscious. Fortunately, plenty of resources exist willing to provide help for senior citizens such as yourself or your elderly parents. The sites listed below cost nothing; they are entirely free elderly resources from U.S. Government organizations designed to improve and maintain seniors’ health.

Senior Care Resources for Health & Wellbeing:

National Center on Elder Abuse: If you or someone you love is being abused or neglected, this website is a free anonymous hotline to report the individual to the proper authorities. Not only will you be enabling the victims to receive better care for the elderly, you could be potentially saving a life.

Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Costs: If an elder makes less than $13,000 alone or $26,000 combined income, they may be eligible for addition help with prescription drug costs in the United States.  This may be a good option to provide elderly parents or yourself with adequate care for seniors and to protect the senior’s health with medication prescribed by a medical doctor.

Eating Healthy: This free guide from the National Institute on Aging provides resources for elders on how to continue eating healthy after age fifty. It focuses on the daily diet and how it can be improved to manage seniors’ health.