Preparedness for Caregivers

Red Cross "ready to go" preparedness kitIt is hurricane season here in Houston, Texas, which means that many people are thinking about ways they can prepare should disaster strike. Preparation well in advance of an actual emergency situation is key for getting through even the toughest situations. For caregivers of older adults, it is even more important to develop a plan.

The Federal Emergency Management Association has developed a preparedness website, Ready.gov that offers plenty of suggestions for making sure that you and your family are ready. Here are some of the key points that caregivers of older adults should keep in mind when developing their preparedness plan.

Electronic Funds

If your loved one receives federal social security checks, consider an automatic payment method instead of the paper checks through the mail. Direct deposit into a bank account or payment on a prepaid debit card can eliminate the worry about losing a check in the mail, or being displaced form home and not having access to mail. This method also eliminates the risk of checks being stolen.

Share the Responsibility

As a caregiver, you probably already know what it means to develop a strong support network. Preparing for a disaster is no different. You’ll want to make sure that each member of your caregiving team: healthcare professionals, family members and neighbors know what the plan is for handling a disaster. Make sure that everyone on the team has contact information for all team members, and that there is a detailed plan for who is calling whom to share information during the situation. The network plan should knowledge of where emergency supplies are kept at your loved one’s home, and duplicate keys to allow access.

Prescription Medications

During a disaster situation, it might be difficult to access doctors or pharmacists easily. You can take a few steps ahead of time though, to ensure that your loved one has the medication he/she needs. Keeping daily medications organized in a pill planner box on a regular basis can help prepare for a situation in which you need a week or more of medications.  One tip is to fill prescriptions on the first day eligible, rather than waiting until the supply runs out. That way there is always a buffer of extra medications for use during an emergency.

Documentation

Make sure that your loved one has copies of important documents saved with their emergency supply kit. These can include financial, family records, wills or deeds, tax information, etc. It’s a good idea to also keep a copy at a separate location, like your home if you live elsewhere, or at a neighbor’s home. Keep the papers in a water-proof container. Medical information like prescriptions, dosage of medications, allergies, doctors’ names and insurance information can also be stored in an online personal health record for added security.

Have a Kit

In addition to a plan of action, you’ll want to stock your loved one’s home with a robust emergency preparedness kit. Here’s a list of items to consider including:

  • Water: one gallon per person per day for at least three days
  • Food: at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Don’t forget the can opener if you have cans!
  • Radio: battery-powered or hand cranked so you can use it when the power goes out
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries: for the flashlight, radio, and any other battery-operated devices
  • Battery operated phone charger: smart phones are super helpful if they’re charged, but otherwise a waste
  • First aid kit:
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to filter contaminated air
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Local maps
  • Supplies for any pets: food and water

Source: Federal Emergency Management Association

September is Prostate Cancer and Ovarian Cancer Month

senior couple in kitchen

Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in the United States, affecting 17 percent of men, but age plays a role in the likelihood of developing the disease. In fact, more than 65 percent of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65. And for men 70 and older, the chance of developing prostate cancer becomes more common than any other cancer in men or women.

More than 20,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with ovarian cancer annually. A woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 73. This cancer mainly develops in older women. About half of the women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer are 63 years or older.

Busting 5 Myths about Prostate and Ovarian Cancer

  1. No symptoms means no cancer.

Prostate cancer is one of the most asymptomatic cancers. Not all men experience symptoms.

  1. The Pap test screens for ovarian cancer.

The Pap test is a screening tool for cervical cancer. There is no screening test for the early detection of ovarian cancer.

  1. Vasectomies cause prostate cancer.

The procedure has not been linked to increasing a man’s chance of getting prostate cancer, but has led to more clinic visits, which has increased the rate of detection.

  1. Oral contraceptives cause ovarian cancer.

The opposite is true; use of oral contraceptives results in a 40 to 50 percent decrease in the risk of ovarian cancer.

  1. I’m safe because it doesn’t run in my family.

Family history does increase a man’s odds to 1 in 3, but of all men, 1 in 6 will be diagnosed.

Genetic or hereditary causes of ovarian cancer account for only 5 to 10 percent of the estimated 23,400 cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed each year in the United States.

Get involved

The Prostate Cancer Foundation has been leading the fight against prostate cancer since 1993. Since then, new medicines and therapies have been developed to help treat and overcome instances of cancer. During September, you can help by participating in efforts hosted by the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition has been providing education and support for women with ovarian cancer and their families since 1995. Their Why Teal campaign aims to raise awareness about the disease and the people it affects.

Sources: Prostate Cancer Foundation, CMPMedica: Myths and Facts about Ovarian Cancer, National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, American Cancer Society.

10 Inspiring Seniors

August 21 is National Senior Citizens Day, established by President Reagan in 1988 as a salute to older adults “for all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish.”

With an aging world population, more and more older adults are continuing to work past retirement age. And that’s no different for those in the public eye. Age is not just a number for these folks.

Here are 10 famous senior citizens who inspire us:

Judi Dench

Source: Flickr by Siebbi

 

 

Judi Dench “I need to learn every day.”

 

 

 

 

 

Jimmy Carter

Source: Flickr by Geoff Holtzman

 

 

President Jimmy Carter “You can do what you have to do, and sometimes you can do it even better than you think you can.”

 

 

 

 

Jane Goodall

Source: Flickr by Nick Step

 

 

Jane Goodall “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

 

 

 

 

Irving Fields

Source: Flickr by Simon Law

 

 

Irving Fields “The more I play, the better it feels. I play one note, I get six months younger. I play two, I’m a year younger. I play a whole concerto and I’m like Benjamin Button — I’m not even born.”

 

 

 

Betty White

Source: Flickr by David Shankbone

 

 

Betty White “It’s your outlook on life that counts. If you take yourself lightly and don’t take yourself too seriously, pretty soon you can find the humor in our everyday lives. And sometimes it can be a lifesaver.”

 

 

 

Warren Buffett

Source: Flickr by Aaron Fieldman

 

 

Warren Buffett “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

 

 

 

 

Madeleine Albright

Source: Flickr by Commonwealth Club

 

 

Madeleine Albright “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.”

 

 

 

 

Morgan Freeman

Source: Flickr by Live Life Happy

 

 

Morgan Freeman “All my life, all my life that I can, as far back as I can remember, I saw my first movie when I was six years old. And since then I wanted to do that. I wanted to be a part of that.”

 

 

 

Oprah Winfrey

Source: Flickr by Barack Obama Campaign

 

 

Oprah Winfrey “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

 

 

 

 

Jack Nicholson

Source: Flickr by Eric Gilliland

 

 

Jack Nicholson “The minute that you’re not learning I believe you’re dead.”

 

Stop Falls Before They Happen

older couple on couch

Falling and even just the fear of falling can cause serious medical problems, especially for older adults. We’ve written before about the top reasons people fall in their homes. Our friends over at SeniorHomes.com created some tips for preventing falls before they even happen.

For the elderly, falls certainly pose a great threat for traumatic injury.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that every year one out of three adults over the age of 65 will experience a fall. This type of problem can then lead to further injury, which is why learning how to prevent falls is so important. Take time now to learn several everyday precautions that you can take to help yourself, or someone you love, keep from falling.

Recognize the Risk-factors

Don’t let the fear of falling keep you from living your life, instead be aware of the risk-factors that could lead to more frequent injury. Some things are beyond our control, like age and current health, but other lifestyle modifications, like choosing the right footwear can make a huge difference.

Read the entire piece>>

Retirement Doesn’t Equal Slowing Down

Baby Boomers redefine what retirement means

retirement sign

Changing economic forces are shifting the definition of retirement. It used to mean that before age 60, you stopped working, went home with a pension that would carry you through the “golden years,” and took up a hobby to fill your days.

This is no longer the case. What adults in the baby boom generation, those aged 50-68, are realizing, is that retirement for them starts later in their life and might even include a part-time job or second career.

According to an April study by Bank of America, more than half of respondents older than 50 were going to push off their retirement. That number is up 36% from a 2011 survey.

Both actual age of retirement and the expectation to retire at a certain age is up from just 10 years ago. A Gallup poll showed that the average expected age of retirement is 62, up from 59, and the average actual age of retirement is up to 66 from 64 in 2004.

While many seniors are working to shore up their retirement finances, some are just not ready to quit the workforce. Advances in healthcare have made it possible for people at retirement age to continue their active lifestyles for years beyond what they used to.

A recent article on LinkedIn touted several good reasons companies should seek out and hire employees over 50 years old. While some older adults are staying in or returning to the workforce because they have to, others are doing so because they want to. Both can be valuable assets to companies who are looking for loyal employees who plan to stay at one place for five or 10 years.

Another unique position Baby Boomers face during their retirement age years is caring for both their aging parents and their adult children. A recent study by the Pew Research Center shows that the population living in multi-generational households has doubled since 1980—because the millennial generation is opting to stay or move back to their parents’ homes.

Four Ideas for Showing Your Parents Some Love

Pic of flowers for momParenting is a full-time, nonstop job. In 1994, President Bill Clinton established a national holiday to celebrate the role that parents of all kinds play in raising their children. Parents’ Day is held each year on the fourth Sunday in July. This year it falls on July 27. Here are some things adult children can do for your parents to thank them for always being there for you.   Home-cooked meal Remember those weeknights mom or dad scurried home from work to get food on your plate by 6 p.m.? Show them how much you appreciated those times by making a special meal for your parents. Day (or night) out Whether taking you to the movies, museums, or unique outings, your parents spent a lot of time trying to entertain you. Repay them with a treat to that new blockbuster or the latest exhibit at the art museum. Family photo session You may have dreaded dressing like your siblings and then posing for hours in formal portrait sessions. But guess what? Parents never get tired of pictures of their kids, no matter how old they are. Whether you include your folks in the picture or you surprise them, a family portrait is sure to put smiles on their faces. Handwritten note Even if Mom and Dad are on Facebook and you talk to them on the phone weekly, nothing beats a hand-written note or letter sent through the mail. Pour out your heart out to them through your written words. It doesn’t have to be poetic, just sincere. Senior parents are thankful for their families, and most of the time Mom and Dad just want to know that their children love them. The simplest way to celebrate your parents for Parents’ Day (or any day) is to tell them how you feel.

Taking in Nature’s Beauty

July is National Recreation and Parks Month

photo of canyonFrom majestic mountain peaks to forests rich in diverse plants and animals, America’s national parks offer some of the most inviting scenery. Summer can be the perfect time to get out and experience the great outdoors. The National Parks Service makes it easier for older adults to enjoy these natural wonders with the inter-agency Senior Pass.

The pass offers lifetime benefits for U.S. citizens or permanent residents age 62 or over for a cost of just $10. Passes can be purchased through the mail or in person at a national recreation location with the application form [PDF],

All the national parks honor the Senior Pass, but here’s a list of the five most visited by seniors. (According to senior pass sales, as reported by U.S. News.)

Grand Canyon National Park

Location: Northern Arizona. The Grand Canyon is more than 270 miles long, up to 18 miles wide at points, and a mile deep. Highlight: Well known for its breathtaking views, the park is also home to historic and archaeological sites. Accessibility: Park shuttle buses are wheelchair accessible, and an Accessibility Permit is available to provide access to areas closed to public traffic.

Yellowstone National Park

Location: Spans Idaho, Montana and Wyoming borders. Yellowstone was established in 1872 as the America’s first national park. Highlight: The park is home to a variety of animals native to the temperate climate, and has the world’s largest collection of geysers. Accessibility: Most walkways and self-guided trails have at least one wheelchair accessible walkway.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Location: Central and western Colorado. The park spans more than 400 square miles. Highlight: The highest peak in Rocky Mountain reaches over 12,000 feet and has more than 300 miles of hiking trails. Accessibility: Two of the campgrounds have accessible campsites and Senior Pass holders can camp at a 50 percent discount.

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

Location: Northeastern Florida on Atlantic coast. This monument is the oldest masonry fortress in the U. S. and represents more than 400 years of American history. Highlight: The site tells the stories of several cultures: Native Americans, Spanish and English settlers, colonial African Americans and others; and the technology they used: from cannons and warfare to architecture and construction. Accessibility: Some areas are limited due to historical preservation of the architecture, but wheelchairs are available for rental and most of the park’s walkways are paved.

Zion National Park

Location: Southwestern Utah. The park covers 229 square miles of land surrounding the Virgin River. Highlight: Utah’s first national park, Zion is also filled with relics from America’s first peoples from nearly 12,000 years ago. Throughout the years, the geology of the area has allowed for fertile crop growing and raising animals, as well as provided security for settlers. Accessibility: The visitor centers, museum, picnic areas and Zion Lodge are accessible, as are restrooms and shuttle buses to other areas of the park.

One Call Alert that goes where you go and connects you to an emergency operator at the push of a button.

For more information about national parks, visit the National Parks Service.

5 Tips for Caregiving After a Hip Replacement

Tips to ease a loved one’s recovery

img_couplewalking

No one wants a loved one to fall and injure a hip, but accidents do happen. In fact, more than 8 million people worldwide suffer from osteoporosis-related fractures each year. And age can play a big part. Adults older than 85 are 15 times more likely to sustain hip fractures than those aged 60-65.

A hip fracture is a serious injury that may require replacement surgery and an extensive recovery time. If you’re caring for a loved one after a hip replacement, here are five tips to help make recovery easier:

1. Learn some new tricks
Before going home from the hospital, health care providers will demonstrate different ways to accomplish everyday tasks without putting extra stress on a new hip. Make sure to be part of these lessons and pay close attention. You can help make sure your loved one doesn’t do too much once home and settled.

2. Get prepared ahead of time
Getting the home ready can be as simple as cleaning up and moving furniture around to make space for using crutches or a walker. It also may include installing grab bars in the shower, adding a lifted seat for the toilet, or removing trip hazards like area rugs. Create a comfortable space such as a favorite recliner where everything needed is within easy reach.

3. Expect some tough workouts
Your loved one is going to need a lot of rehabilitation after a hip replacement. There will likely be exercises and mobility stretches that should be done routinely at home. Make sure they stick to the structured plan and adhere to the rules, especially the limit on lifting heavy objects.

4. Be alert to emotional changes
Recovery from surgery is hard physically and emotionally. There may even be setbacks in recovery that could lead to feelings of depression and isolation. Ask questions each day to get an idea of how your loved one is feeling. If you notice anything unusual or have any concerns, mention them to the doctor or social worker.

5. Don’t expect immediate healing
Everyone heals differently so there is no set schedule for when your loved one will be feeling as good as new. Be encouraging and positive, but don’t push your loved one beyond their personal limit or beyond what is reasonably expected.

With these tips even the most daunting recovery can be eased.

One Call Alert enables independent living at home for seniors and others with 24/7 medical alert monitoring. One Call Alert is simple to use and reliable. Our No-Installation-Needed system delivers emergency care with just one push of a button. Whether you had a minor slip in your kitchen or you are having a medical emergency, One Call Alert will be there for you.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control; Johnell O and Kanis JA (2006) An estimate of the worldwide prevalence and disability associated with osteoporotic fractures. Osteoporos Int 17:1726; Scott JC. Osteoporosis and hip fractures. Rheumatic Diseases Clinics of North America 1990;16(3):717–40.

Give the Gift of Peace of Mind for Father’s Day

oca blog

You may be one of the many adult children of aging parents asking yourself right now, “What can I give Dad for Father’s Day this year?”

Is Dad seeming to be getting more noticeably older? Has Dad fallen in recent months or needed to be hospitalized because of an ailment or ongoing medical condition? Is Dad living alone or is he left alone for long periods of time throughout the day? If you are reading this and shaking your head yes, then perhaps it’s time to start thinking about getting Dad a medical alert system from One Call Alert.

A medical alert system is an inexpensive and easy way to give your dad the gift of peace of mind this Father’s Day!

One Call Alert enables independent living at home for seniors with professional and caring 24/7 medical alert monitoring. One Call Alert is simple to use and reliable; there is only one button to push on a lightweight pendant that can be easily worn as a necklace under a shirt or on the wrist like a watch. Our No-Installation-Needed system is perfect for those who don’t want to be waiting around all day for an installer to come in a four hour window.

One Call Alert is not just for emergencies where paramedics are needed; we can be there even if it is just a small problem and Dad just needs the help of a neighbor or close by friend. You and your father can create a personalized emergency protocol that makes sense for his living situation and is something he can be comfortable with.

Best of all, One Call Alert is customer focused and affordable. There are no contracts and you can cancel your services at any time. Sign up today for less than $1 a day and give Dad, and yourself, the gift of peace of mind and security this Father’s Day.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

One Call Alert enables independent living at home for seniors and others with 24/7 medical alert monitoring. One Call Alert is simple to use and reliable. Our No-Installation-Needed system delivers emergency care with just one push of a button. Whether you had a minor slip in your kitchen or you are having a medical emergency, One Call Alert will be there for you.

Great Stories About How Dads Were There For Their Families

Dad-Helping-Son-Riding-BikeMany of our medical alert system customers are adult children purchasing the system for their mothers or fathers. They get peace of mind knowing that their parents will be safer in an emergency. Often they feel like they are, in a way, paying their parents back for some of the times that the parents were there for them. We love to hear the stories and get to know our customers.

Whether it is teaching a child to ride a bike, standing proud at a graduation ceremony, or helping install ceiling fans at a new house, the stuff dad does can often go under-appreciated. With Father’s Day coming up this Sunday, we wanted to show the important role that dad has in being there for his children. We recently reached out to a few of our subscribers and asked them to share a story or two about how their father was there for them at some important point in their lives. Here are a couple of their stories:

The Bike                                                                                                                                            “I was nine years old when I got a brand new BMX bike for my birthday. It was beautiful. It was fire engine red and had it all. I couldn’t wait to get out and ride. That Saturday morning a couple friends rode by on their way to the hilly trails near my house. It was the perfect place to try on the new bike and have a little fun; it was the first Saturday of summer.

I grabbed the bike out of the garage, let my mom know where I was going, and I was off. This was back before they made you wear a helmet, and pads that covered most of your body. The summer air was already heating up, but I was just so excited to be out on my bike. Up and down, crisscrossing the hills near Black Diamond State Park, I rode that bike like it was meant for me.

Well, until I crashed that is. I caught some loose rock coming around a turn and slid sideways off the trail and tumbled thirty or forty feet down the side of a steep hill. When I finally stopped rolling, it took another couple minutes for my head to clear. I must have bumped it something pretty good, but the pain was coming from my ankle. I was sure I had broken it. I was scraped up from head to toe, but it was nothing compared to the pain in my ankle. I tried to work my way to a standing position, but couldn’t.

It took a couple minutes for my friends to work their way down the hill to get to me, but as soon as they did, they confirmed the worst. There was actually bone sticking out near my ankle. One of my friends nearly threw up. The other just got on his bike and was pedaling hard as he yelled back that he was going to get help.

What seemed like hours, but was probably no more than one, went by before I heard some sounds coming from the direction that was the closest to the park’s parking lot. We were probably six miles in and the park’s trails were too narrow for a truck, but there in the distance, closing the gap quickly, was my dad.

I was so relieved to see him. My whole body hurt, but just seeing him coming up the path made me feel like everything was going to be OK. In no time he had made a makeshift splint, had wrapped my ankle up to stop the bleeding and was carrying me down towards the parking lot. He carried me for almost four miles before we got to where the truck was parked at the base of one of the trails.

He took me to the hospital and I had surgery later that day. I didn’t get to ride that bike again until September and I was riding it to school. It sucked to be in a cast for most of the summer, but it could have been so much worse. I am so thankful that my dad was there for me that day. The peace I felt just seeing him come up the trail, I’ll never forget that.” – James R. Antioch, CA

Date with Dad                                                                                                                                   “I am proud to say that I have always been somewhat of an overachiever in my life. My dad likes to say that it was my stellar upbringing that gave me such a work ethic and he’s probably right. Don’t get me wrong, I was never the smartest person in my class, or the best athlete on my team, certainly not the best dancer, not the best violinist, or the best cook, but I always worked hard at all of it and won plenty of awards simply for trying my best.

Yes, I grew up in the era of try your best and participate and you get an award. The difference between me and the rest of the kids out there was that I was trying my best at everything life had to offer. I was a poet, an archer, a girl scout, an orange belt in karate, a volunteer at the hospital, a forward on the soccer team, a first base-woman on the softball team, a debater on, well, the debate team, and I dabbled in a few other hobbies as well.

After graduating college I started to focus my efforts a little more in a single direction and I finally figured out what I truly care about in life. I started working in education with a goal of making sure the hundreds of hobbies I had in my youth would still be available for the children of today and tomorrow. Budgets get cut, but a well-rounded education helps children to figure out what their passion is. For me, it was a passion to take in all the life had to offer, but more and more of the kids today simply don’t have the opportunities to try things out for themselves.

I launched a program in my state that, put simply, created a schedule of rotating classes from school to school where high school students could sign up as an elective and each week they would dive into something completely new and different. Horticulture, soccer, sushi, punk music, square dancing, and the list went on and on. It was designed to keep students on their toes while exposing them to activities and cultures they may never get an opportunity to check out otherwise.

The pilot program was a huge success and, well, I was getting an award for it. This award, however, was a very big deal. I was being given an award in education by the Governor of the great state of Texas at a formal gala being held at the capitol, and boy was I excited! I had a date, a dress, and a pair of shoes that would knock your socks off. The odd thing was that I was finally getting an award for something other than trying hard, but I didn’t really care. I just wanted the opportunity to talk about the program and hopefully get it some additional funding for the next year.

It was about an hour before the limo was going to get to my house to pick me and my date up for the event and as I was in the hurried jumble of getting ready, I got a phone call from my date. He canceled on me. He gave me some lame excuse, said he was sorry and hung up the phone. Now, of course I still had to go and going by myself wouldn’t have been a big deal, but I was stressed out and crying through the mascara I had just put on. I called my best friend who also happened to be my mom and I cried some more.

A half hour later, I pulled it together, got ready even with puffy eyes. The doorbell rang and I grabbed my purse. At the door was the limo driver and I said something about a change in plans and that it was just going to be me for the evening. He had a look of confusion in his eyes and said, “But ma’am, I have already picked your date up. He is in the limo now.”

Was I going crazy? Did the last hour just not really happen? I get down to the street and standing by an open door to the limo is my father, dressed in a tuxedo with flowers in his hands. All he said to me was, “Sorry we’re late, honey. I made him stop so I could get you some flowers.”

That night my dad was there for me. My mom told him what happened and how stressed out I was. He just went into the bedroom, cleaned up, put on a tuxedo, called the limo company, and was there for me. Best date I have ever had.” – Jillian S. Austin, TX

____________________________________________________________________________________________

One Call Alert enables independent living at home for seniors and others with 24/7 medical alert monitoring. One Call Alert is simple to use and reliable. Our No-Installation-Needed system delivers emergency care with just one push of a button. Whether you had a minor slip in your kitchen or you are having a medical emergency, One Call Alert will be there for you.