I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  I have been, or can be if you click on a link and make a purchase, compensated via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value for writing this post. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

 

Visiting aging parents during the Thanksgiving holiday can sometimes be a jolting experience.  If it’s been some time since you’ve seen them, the awareness of a decline in health or simply the realization that they’re aging can be not only upsetting but concerning.  It can seem as if overnight memory loss, falls and other health issues need to be addressed and safeguards put in place. If you don’t live near your aging parents (or even if you do) finding products and services that can keep them safe will give you some peace of mind. 

Fortunately, there are many smart devices now on the market that will allow aging relatives to remain independent and safe:

OMRON 10 Series Wireless Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor – Monitoring blood pressure on a regular basis is critical for prevention of strokes and heart attacks.  This blood pressure monitor can send unlimited readings for two people wirelessly to a smartphone, so you can help your parents manage their blood pressure and share the results with their physician. The information may help their doctors tweak their drugs and doses more readily than waiting until their next office visit to see if their current medication regimen is working.

Trelawear Medical Alert Pendant

TRELAWARE – This is a great alternative to the clunky white plastic “help I’ve fallen and can’t get up” medical alert pendants. MobileHelp now offers beautiful pieces of jewelry that work with their medical alert systems: with purchase, TRELAWEAR is paired with a mobile device and base station. 

Blending form and function, the new collection was designed for consumers who want a more stylish alternative to a traditional help button.

Pendants are offered in two different shapes (cushion and round), two different finishes (gold-tone and silver-colored), and two center resin stone color choices (black and turquoise).

If a user needs help, they simply press the discreet “T” button on the back of the TRELAWEAR pendant, and the signal is communicated through the MobileHelp base station or mobile device to its 24/7 central monitoring station for emergency dispatch to the user’s location.

Safer Alarms Christmas Ornament

Safer Alarms Christmas Ornament – Christmas tree fires are the deadliest house fires because they ignite so quickly. Frayed wires, placing a tree too close to a heat source or a candle that’s accidentally left burning all night that’s near the tree can all lead to a deadly disaster.  Safer Alarms Christmas ornament is actually a fire detector. Simply hang it on the tree and place the alarm in a common area where it can be heard and your family can get out of the house faster. Even when the ornament melts in the fire the alarm will continue to sound.

Sagely Smart Weekly Pill Organizer

Sagely Smart Weekly Pill Organizer – Medication management is one of the most difficult yet important tasks for aging adults. This pill organizer is large enough to hold big pills such as fish oil, multi-vitamins and has a magnetized base so will keep it stable.  The Push-Through design allows someone to push the pills from the lid into the container to improve loading accuracy and the flexible lids are easy to open and perfect for people with arthritis and other manual dexterity issues. Most importantly, there’s an app so it can remind you when to take your medication.

Jitterbug Smartphone – Many smartphones are too small or complicated for seniors to use.  The Jitterbug is perfect as it has a larger screen, a menu that is easy to navigate and voice typing so seniors can send a text message without needing to key in all the letters.  It also has a front facing speaker so it’s easier to hear.

 

Disclaimer  – I have a material and/or financial connection because I received a gift, sample of a product and/or compensation for consideration in preparing to write this content. All opinions stated within are my own.

I’m one of the thousands of multi-generational families living together.  Having my mom live with us and witness the incredibly close relationships she has with her grandchildren has been just one of the benefits of living together.  She is literally a superwoman, helping me run the house and driving the kids to and from their activities.  Of course, there are challenges of having three generations with very different ideas and expectations under the safe roof but for us it works.

Last week, however, I realized how quickly things can change.  Our rambunctious puppy ran right into her knee and, well, off to the orthopedist we went.  My mom is the type who not only never complains but won’t admit when there’s a problem.  Several weeks ago, I was travelling and she came down with the stomach flu.  My mom is tiny – 5’2” and 100 pounds (I unfortunately don’t take after her!) When she gets a stomach bug she almost always needs to go to the ER for dehydration.  Sure enough, I woke up to a text while I was 300 miles away saying – “Called an ambulance and I’m off to the ER – feel better already.”

Yup, that’s my mom – the glass is always half-full. 

But after last week’s episode I started spiraling a bit thinking what would happen if she fell down the stairs when she was alone.  What would she do if she tripped and fell as she was walking on one of our nature paths in town? 

“What if’s” like this aren’t new to me.  My husband has Primary Progressive MS and there’s been more than one instance when he’s fallen in the bathroom and we’ve needed to called EMS to help get him up.  My son has Intellectual Disabilities and tends to wander.   Air traffic controllers have nothing on me!

Like many active seniors, there’s no way my mom would even consider one of those typical white, plastic medical alert necklaces.  And, to be honest, I don’t blame her.  It immediately labels someone “old.”

A few months ago, I ran across a company that understood this – MobileHelp.  They’ve partnered with a company TRELAWEAR to create actual pieces of jewelry that just so happen to be a medical alert device as well.  The founder of TRELAWEAR, Mara Perlmutter, was inspired to design the collection by her own mom. 

The new Trelawear “smart” jewelry pendant comes with all of the safety features of a traditional personal emergency response system paired to a cellular base station. This high-end pendant comes in a silver or gold finish – providing customers with the freedom to remain safe and stylish – at home and on the go.

The necklace comes in both silver and gold finishes and on the back is button that can be pushed in an emergency.  The signal is communicated through the MobileHelp base station or mobile device to the company’s central monitoring station for emergency dispatch to the user’s location.  If for some reason the person is unable to speak the monitoring station will immediately dispatch assistance.

Because Trelawear was inspired by a mom, MobileHelp is giving everyone a chance to share their stories about their own mom, or someone who’s like a mom, and win a free TRELAWEAR pendant as well as emergency monitoring (with service) for one year.  Just share your story and/or photo about how this person inspires you.  The contest is running from now through the end of May at which point three winners will be chosen at random.  You can submit your entries below.  This is something that so many of us need for peace of mind – good luck!

While for some people the holidays are the “most wonderful times of the year,” for others it takes all of their emotional strength to just get through them.

For seniors and aging relatives it can be especially difficult.  They are most likely nostalgic about years gone by and missing friends and other family members who have passed away.  It’s especially difficult if they have lost a spouse.  And for those living alone or without family close by it can be even worse.

I’ve noticed the change in my mom since my dad passed away and now that her sister is in a nursing home.  She misses past Christmas celebrations when her siblings and parents were alive and reminisces about when I was young.  It’s impossible to recreate these times and quite frankly, with spouses and extended family new traditions have formed.  While I want to help her maintain some traditions, I also want her to embrace the present moment and enjoy times with her grandkids and the rest of the family – myself included!

Here are few ways to help seniors avoid holiday blues:

Get some fresh air: Visit a Christmas Village, take a walk in the woods, go caroling.  Getting outside and soaking in some Vitamin D while also enjoying a change of scenery helps clear their mind and focus on something else.

Volunteer: Giving back and helping others is a great way to focus on larger issues.  Whether it’s volunteering at a homeless shelter, delivering food to the elderly or collecting toys for children giving back makes you feel better.

Include them in new traditions – Involve them with activities your kids are doing and incorporate in something from their holiday traditions.  Baking cookies and using a new recipe as well as one of their favorite recipes will help create new and cherished experiences.

 

Travel – My mom just left on a cruise.  She travelled by herself down to Fort Lauderdale and met my cousins on the ship.  This was waaayyy out of her comfort zone and I’m so proud of her for doing it.  Taking a Caribbean vacation in December is something that certainly was not a part of her traditions but the pictures she’s been sending have been incredible.  She’s having a blast and it’s given her a new perspective. 

The holidays come with mixed emotions and for many seniors it’s a tough time.  Helping them expand their view and gain new perspective will help tremendously.

Shop medical alert systems at MobileHelp.com

My family is rather complicated and unique.  My son has Intellectual Disabilities, my husband has Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis and is in a wheelchair full-time and my mom lives with us.  For all three of them there’s always the potential that an emergency will arise while they’re out in the community.  As their caregiver I always worry about the “what if’s” and if I’ll receive a call someday that something’s happened.  I use an app that allows me to track where they all are but it’s not going to tell me if my husband’s fallen transferring from the wheelchair or my mom has had a stroke or if my son has gotten into a dangerous situation.

I was so happy to just find a new product – MobileHelp Smart.  It’s a Smart Watch that’s a medical alert system, fitness tracker and health system all in one.  It looks like a regular watch which is great for my son since he’s only 20 and wouldn’t want something that doesn’t look cool, it’s “gadgety” enough for my hubby and it’s easy enough to use for my mom.

Powered by Samsung and available through AT & T, it has a built-in microphone and speaker to speak directly to Emergency Operators, activity tracking, vital sign sensors and health-focused applications that uses one of the nation’s largest 4G cellular networks and GPS location tracking to provide premier protection. If there’s an emergency, all the person needs to do is press the Help button and they’ll immediately be connected with an Operator that he or she can speak with to describe the emergency.  As soon as the alert is sent the watch will automatically answer the call from the Emergency Response Center in handsfree mode. If the person is unable to speak to the Operator, then emergency responders will immediately be contacted.  With military-grade durability, MobileHelp Smart resists water, dust and extreme temperatures. It features a Corning® Gorilla® Glass SR+ watch face to help protect against scratches and a battery that lasts up to 2 days on a single charge.

On top of this, it’s also a fitness tracker which I love. Samsung Health helps you manage your wellness and fitness activities, set fitness goals and check your progress. It monitors heart rate, steps taken, stairs climbed, and calories burned and stores records of recent activity, calorie, water and caffeine consumption.   It will even tell you the weather.

1 Month FREE Service On Annual Plans at MobileHelp.com, no code needed. My concern with products such as this is whether the company will be around in the next year or so to support the product.  Fortunately Mobile Health is a major player in the market and has been around for years. The MobileHealth Smart sells for $349.95 and the monthly monitoring costs $24.95.  If you sign up for an annual plan, you can get one free month of service.

 

 

As a spokesperson for COX Homelife I have the chance to check out so many smart devices that provide accessibility and for seniors to remain in their home.

For more information, visit Cox.com.

This was one of those weeks when I was extraordinarily grateful for my girlfriends.  We all have rough weeks but for caregivers and parents of children with disabilities there are times where it’s completely overwhelming.   Those days where you consider whether you can do it anymore and fantasize about packing it all in, assuming a new identify and opening a taco stand on Venice beach (OK, that last part is my particular fantasy.)

But we’re the one who must keep it together and keep the family running.  For many parents of adult children with profound intellectual or physical disabilities this means there’s no rest stop in sight – like ever.  There are parents in their seventies and eighties who are exhausted still caring 24/7 for their child when at that age their child should be helping them.

In my case, if you don’t follow my blog, my husband has primary progressive multiple sclerosis and my 19-year-old son has intellectual disabilities.  I’m one of the lucky ones.  My husband has a handicap-accessible van so he can help with the driving duties for my three kids and my son can help with chores around the house.

But this was one of those weeks where it all just felt MASSIVELY OVERWHELMING.  Managing the house while being the sole person responsible for bringing home the bacon $$  – well let’s just say that taco truck started looking real appealing.

Fortunately, I’ve learned that at those times I need to reach out to my tribe.  A few girlfriends who I can trust with my vulnerability and who get me.  The ones who can see me at my lowest and know what to say and how to say it.

Every woman needs her tribe but, for those of us who are caregivers, we every now and then need someone to care for us.

I’m so grateful that over the years my girlfriends have learned all the tips below on how to help me.  My tribe has changed over the years with some women being added and, sadly, some leaving either by their own choice or by my recognition that they were not able to offer me the emotional support I needed.  It’s critical that the women in your tribe are lifting you up rather than bringing you down.

Whether you’re the woman who needs to cultivate your tribe or you know someone who could use support, here are some critical do’s and don’ts.  If you’re the woman who needs support, feel free to simply send this along to your girlfriends if you can’t find the words to tell them:

Don’t:

  • Feel like you can’t tell me about your problems. You look at me and think you don’t have the right to talk about how exhausted, stressed, frustrated you are in comparison but you do.  And sometimes it’s nice to be distracted from my own issues and focus on you.  Numerous studies have shown that by giving back and doing for others it helps us feel better.
  • Say “I don’t know how you do it.” – neither do I but I don’t have a choice. Pointing this out simply makes me feel more defeated and doesn’t provide me with practical solutions.
  • Tell me to take something off my plate – not possible. I have to work, I have to spend inordinate amounts of time at therapist and doctor appointments, PPTs with the school, fighting with the state to get services and financial assistance, advocating for equal opportunities for my child, maintaining my house and parenting my other children which includes being involved in their lives.  Not one of these is an “option.”

Do:

  • Take me out to have fun – when life seems overwhelming sometimes it’s just a matter of a change of environment. Invite me to take a walk, go to the beach, meet for a coffee or glass of wine or go to a concert.  Planning is never easy as life always throws a curveball so oftentimes a spur-of-the-moment invite is the best!
  • Take charge – there are times when we’re so overwhelmed and exhausted we can’t even think straight. That’s the time to take charge and, rather than asking how you can help, just do it – drive my kids to their activity or appointment, bring over a prepared dinner, help with grocery shopping if you happen to be out or some chore around my house if you have a bit of extra time.
  • Point out to me my small successes – it’s easy for me to lose sight of achievements when everything seems like such a struggle.
  • JUST LISTEN – there really are no answers and I don’t expect you to have any. I really need to just vent sometimes and then I’ll feel much better.  (Women often get that it’s men that want to fix things but just thought I’d remind you.)
  • Slap me in the face when I need it – Wallowing in a pity party is never going to do me any good. Trust in our friendship enough to know that I can take and need some tough love.  Let me have a day of feeling sorry for myself but then slap me and tell me to “Snap out of it!”
  • Stick by me – Sometimes all I need to hear is that I’ll never be alone and you’ll be there for me. The future is scary for me – knowing that you’ll be holding my hand and helping me figure it out is really all I need.

 

 

This was one of those weeks when I was extraordinarily grateful for my girlfriends.  We all have rough weeks but for caregivers and parents of children with disabilities there are times where it’s completely overwhelming.   Those days where you consider whether you can do it anymore and fantasize about packing it all in, assuming a new identify and opening a taco stand on Venice beach (OK, that last part is my particular fantasy.)

But we’re the one who must keep it together and keep the family running.  For many parents of adult children with profound intellectual or physical disabilities this means there’s no rest stop in sight – like ever.  There are parents in their seventies and eighties who are exhausted still caring 24/7 for their child when at that age their child should be helping them.

In my case, if you don’t follow my blog, my husband has primary progressive multiple sclerosis and my 19-year-old son has intellectual disabilities.  I’m one of the lucky ones.  My husband has a handicap-accessible van so he can help with the driving duties for my three kids and my son can help with chores around the house. 

But this was one of those weeks where it all just felt MASSIVELY OVERWHELMING.  Managing the house while being the sole person responsible for bringing home the bacon $$  – well let’s just say that taco truck started looking real appealing. 

Fortunately, I’ve learned that at those times I need to reach out to my tribe.  A few girlfriends who I can trust with my vulnerability and who get me.  The ones who can see me at my lowest and know what to say and how to say it. 

Every woman needs her tribe but, for those of us who are caregivers, we every now and then need someone to care for us

I’m so grateful that over the years my girlfriends have learned all the tips below on how to help me.  My tribe has changed over the years with some women being added and, sadly, some leaving either by their own choice or by my recognition that they were not able to offer me the emotional support I needed.  It’s critical that the women in your tribe are lifting you up rather than bringing you down.

Whether you’re the woman who needs to cultivate your tribe or you know someone who could use support, here are some critical do’s and don’ts.  If you’re the woman who needs support, feel free to simply send this along to your girlfriends if you can’t find the words to tell them:

Don’t:

  • Feel like you can’t tell me about your problems. You look at me and think you don’t have the right to talk about how exhausted, stressed, frustrated you are in comparison but you do.  And sometimes it’s nice to be distracted from my own issues and focus on you.  Numerous studies have shown that by giving back and doing for others it helps us feel better
  • Say “I don’t know how you do it.” – neither do I but I don’t have a choice. Pointing this out simply makes me feel more defeated and doesn’t provide me with practical solutions.
  • Tell me to take something off my plate – not possible. I have to work, I have to spend inordinate amounts of time at therapist and doctor appointments, PPTs with the school, fighting with the state to get services and financial assistance, advocating for equal opportunities for my child, maintaining my house and parenting my other children which includes being involved in their lives.  Not one of these is an “option.”

Do:

  • Take me out to have fun – when life seems overwhelming sometimes it’s just a matter of a change of environment. Invite me to take a walk, go to the beach, meet for a coffee or glass of wine or go to a concert.  Planning is never easy as life always throws a curveball so oftentimes a spur-of-the-moment invite is the best!
  • Take charge – there are times when we’re so overwhelmed and exhausted we can’t even think straight. That’s the time to take charge and, rather than asking how you can help, just do it – drive my kids to their activity or appointment, bring over a prepared dinner, help with grocery shopping if you happen to be out or some chore around my house if you have a bit of extra time.
  • Point out to me my small successes – it’s easy for me to lose sight of achievements when everything seems like such a struggle.
  • JUST LISTEN – there really are no answers and I don’t expect you to have any. I really need to just vent sometimes and then I’ll feel much better.  (Women often get that it’s men that want to fix things but just thought I’d remind you.)
  • Slap me in the face when I need it – Wallowing in a pity party is never going to do me any good. Trust in our friendship enough to know that I can take and need some tough love.  Let me have a day of feeling sorry for myself but then slap me and tell me to “Snap out of it!”
  • Stick by me – Sometimes all I need to hear is that I’ll never be alone and you’ll be there for me. The future is scary for me – knowing that you’ll be holding my hand and helping me figure it out is really all I need.

Image: McAlpin, NYdailynews.com

 

An estimated 36,000 people die from the flu or complications of the flu each year, most of these deaths occurring in senior citizens. Because seniors’ immune systems begin to weaken at the age of 65, they are at a much higher risk for contracting the sickness. The CDC estimates that 200,000 people a year will be hospitalized for the flu, and disproportionately it is the elderly who this affects.

There are two options for the vaccine for senior citizens: the traditional vaccine that is administered to anyone who gets it, or — the choice I would recommend as long as given the “okay” by the doctor — is the stronger strain of the vaccination, designated for those over 65 to trigger a stronger immune response to flu.

As mentioned before, many seniors do not just die from the flu alone, but complications of the illness. Those with a history of heart problems, chronic lung disease, diabetes, or renal failure are more likely to have complications with the flu and should take extra precautions against contracting it. The most common complication associated with the flu is pneumonia, which leads to the most deaths and hospitalizations. Arming seniors with the pneumococcal vaccination is the best protection against this, even paired with the flu vaccine, just to be safe.

Not getting the flu shot, which in recent years has been made so convenient and accessible – and it is always covered by MediCare – is a risk too big to take with senior citizens. The vaccine can reduce the risk of illnesses and complications by 60 percent and reduces the incidence of flu deaths by 90 percent in seniors. Most importantly, getting your loved ones vaccinated offers the peace of mind of knowing that they will not suffer or be exposed to an array of illnesses and complications that could  prove fatal this season.