Dosing and regular patient monitoring may help reduce potential cognitive side effects
In the last 25 years, rates of antidepressant use in America have more than quadrupled, with 11% of the population taking these drugs– most of which are SSRIs. Otherwise known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, SSRIs help to treat issues like depression, anxiety, and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain, which can effectively alleviate many of the symptoms of these disorders.
While SSRIs have helped many Americans become mentally healthy, research is beginning to indicate that SSRIs may have harmful side effects for patients 65 and older. If your older parent or relative is being treated with SSRIs, and has problems with memory and thinking skills, should you be worried? The answer: It depends.
If an older relative is considering SSRIs for depression, consider alternatives first
For older individuals suffering from depression, SSRIs may be an effective treatment– but that doesn’t mean that they should be a patient’s first choice, especially considering the potential side effects. Before considering medication like SSRIs, many doctors recommend psychotherapy, lifestyle changes, and exploring other holistic therapies.
Depression in older adults is commonly a result of isolation and lack of daily activities and responsibilities. Depending on the situation and abilities of the individual, getting active, being outside, and increased involvement in the community may alleviate many symptoms of depression and anxiety. Senior activity groups, regular exercise, volunteering, hobbies, sports, and part-time jobs are all potential ways for older individuals to get out more and maintain an active social life. This can take their minds off the negative and recurring thoughts that often characterize depression and anxiety disorders. In some situations, moving to a 55+ senior community or other group living setting where older individuals can retain their independence while improving their social lives may also be an effective solution to combat depression.
Lower doses may keep medications effective while minimizing cognitive harm
Some doctors suggest that elderly patients should start with only half the SSRI dose of younger patients– as lower doses may be able to treat depression and anxiety symptoms while reducing both cognitive and physical side effects. If a senior relative is finding that SSRI medications help alleviate their depression symptoms, but you think it may also be hastening their dementia symptoms, you may want to speak with their doctor about potentially reducing their dose.
SSRIs may also affect sleep and dreams in seniors
In addition to potentially hastening cognitive decline in older patients, SSRIs could be negatively affecting their sleep patterns. Some researchers have also linked the medications to a reduction in quality REM sleep and an increase in sleep disorders, including nightmares– which could have the unintended effect of exacerbating anxiety and depression symptoms in patients.
Common physical SSRI side effects may also affect seniors with pre-existing conditions
When deciding whether it’s a good idea for seniors to take SSRIs, it’s also important to consider common age-independent side effects of the drugs, including weight-gain and sexual side effects. While these side effects may not cause serious problems for many seniors, older adults with weight problems may be at risk for high cholesterol, blood pressure issues, and even heart attacks if SSRIs cause them to gain additional weight.
Despite potential side effects, SSRIs are often the safest depression medication for seniors
While it may be tempting to consider non-SSRI medications for your senior relative, most doctors agree that other common depression and anxiety medications– including MAO-inhibitors and benzodiazepines, carry far too many health risks for seniors.
It’s also important to understand that the link between SSRIs and increased dementia hasn’t been fully proven– only indicated, and that depression is a potential side effect of early-stage dementia. Therefore, patients with dementia may be prescribed with SSRIs at a higher rate than the general population. This means that the SSRIs may not necessarily be causing dementia, only treating one of its symptoms.
Overall, SSRIs remain an effective medication for many, but not all patients– including senior citizens. If your senior relative is combating depression, SSRIs may be able to help, but it’s smart to look into other options first. If they’re already on SSRIs and experiencing side effects, a dose reduction may be able to help. Before your older relative makes any changes to their medication doses, have them get the approval of an experienced psychiatrist– as quickly reducing SSRI doses may have extremely serious side effects.
To learn more about how to help your senior relatives through a variety of health and lifestyle related issues, contact Caring Solutions LLC today for a free consultation.
Keeping your loved ones safe and healthy might not be as easy as you first thought
Whether you’re a caretaker, nurse, family member, or other friend, caring for an elderly loved one or patient should be a priority. And it’s more important now than ever to keep watch of your loved ones or patients suffering with dementia—especially if they become hospitalized for any related or unrelated reason. Here’s why:
First, let’s admit that it’s common to think of hospitals as safe places for anyone with cognitive or medical difficulties. And for the most part, they are. But you might be surprised to learn that hospitals are not a happy place for patients suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
What are hospitals like for patients with dementia?
Imagine waking up in a brand new, strange place. Unlike your normal bedroom, it’s bright, it feels sterile, it’s cold and rather unwelcoming. Then, doctors and nurses seem to be surrounding you. You start to realize that you’re in the hospital, but you don’t know why. They begin to explain it to you, but you’re left feeling confused, scared, and alone.
What about your normal routine? Where is your family? Your friends? Come to think of it, who are your family and friends? Would you even recognize them if they were in the room with you? You can’t seem to remember much of anything right now, and you’re feeling more lost than ever.
To you, this example might sound extreme, but this is actually the case for a many elderly patients suffering with Alzheimer’s or dementia. It’s clear why being in the hospital with dementia can be a negative experience for those suffering from the disease. It’s not that the doctors and nurses aren’t doing a good job — it’s that this change of scenery can send patients into a panic. On top of that, certain medications, techniques, and other medical practices can throw them for a loop.
But their state of confusion and fear can be more than just dementia-related
An added danger that many of us don’t really want to think about? Delirium. According to Mayo Clinic, “Delirium is a serious disturbance in mental abilities that results in confused thinking and reduced awareness of your environment. The start of delirium is usually rapid—within hours or a few days.” And it seems to affect patients greater when they’re already battling brain disease. Fox News reports that “Being hospitalized seems to increase the chances of Alzheimer’s patients moving into a nursing home… within the next year.” According to the Canadian Medical Association, “There is no single factor that brings on delirium. People who already have dementia or are particularly frail are at higher risk of acquiring the condition. Once in hospital, delirium can be caused by a combination of numerous factors, including surgery, infection, isolation, dehydration, poor nutrition and medications such as painkillers, sedatives and sleeping pills.”
That means that those who have dementia are at higher risk for developing symptoms of delirium. It’s just something to keep in mind when the person you care for requires hospitalization.
Keeping them safe 365 days a year
If you care for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s, it’s important to get them the care they need. But how? Proper home care could possibly be a wise solution. If you’re caring for an elderly patient at home, be sure to check out Caring Solutions’ wide selection of devices that will help keep them healthy, happy, and safe.
Because, as you age, knowing where you are can start to become a challenge
Unfortunately for many people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s, getting to and from places isn’t always as simple as just looking around and knowing exactly where you are or where you’re headed. In fact, going somewhere that was once familiar can become a hassle as patients begin to age—and it can become painful for their loved ones watching them struggle to remember where they were going or where they are. That’s because Alzheimer’s and dementia are both progressive cognitive diseases that affect a person’s memory.
Enlist a four-legged friend
One creative solution for helping to combat this issue is partnering the patient with a trained service dog. Sure, you’ve heard of service dogs before. They’re a useful resource for the blind and deaf, assisting with keeping them safe and getting them the places they need to go. Likewise, service dogs might be able to help prevent wandering in patients suffering with those battles.
Psychology Today describes how these service dogs function as a safety measure for patients affected by Alzheimer’s or dementia stating, “These dogs do not work on a harness, the way that guide dogs for the blind do, but rather on a six-foot leash so that they can be out in front of the person and actually lead them in an appropriate direction”. The main task of the dementia service dog is to bring his patient home when the order “Home” is given.
If the patient forgets to give the order to return home, or is lost to the degree that he wanders far from the house and into an unfamiliar area, worried caretakers or family members are able to access electronic GPS navigation device that is installed on the dog’s collar. Certain GPS-equipped collars:
• Emit a recognizable tone which the dog interprets as an alternate command instructing him to lead his patient home
• Are connected to cellular devices
• Can be accessed by multiple family members, caretakers, nurses, etc.
More than a guide
On top of the companionship a service dog provides, service animals can also assist in the search and rescue of anyone who has wandered off. They are given a piece of the person’s clothing to smell, and are trained to find the person matching that scent. That worn item should be placed, unwashed, in a plastic bag to preserve the scent to aid the animal searching.
Alternate solutions for Alzheimer and Dementia patients
Not everyone can work with a service animal due to various issues, such as allergies, nursing home rules, or even a fear of animals. That’s why wandering prevention devices can be such an important component to a patient’s prevention routine. Featuring a 30-day battery life and trackable GPS features, these wearable devices are a surefire way to keep a patient safe and sound—and even if they do wander off, it won’t be long before you know exactly where they are.
Caring Solutions LLC is a provider of medical alert devices, medication dispensers, and related products for the purpose of providing extended care and peace of mind for the adult children and caregivers of the elderly. To learn more about the support, information, and products we offer, visit our website!
Help might be just a click away—and that can make all the difference
Senior citizen care can be tricky business for a lot of reasons. From dementia to diabetes, there are endless health concerns and hindrances that can put the elderly at risk when they are alone, driving, or at their home. And as a loved one and/or caregiver, you can only do so much to ensure that the seniors you care for are safe when you’re not around.
For family members, friends, and medical professionals alike, medical alert apps have helped aid a huge sigh of relief. While they aren’t guaranteed to prevent any injuries or emergencies as a whole, they do allow the elderly to obtain the medical attention they need within a timely manner. And that means they’re going to be treated sooner than they would if they weren’t connected to the useful and life-saving app.
But it’s 2016, and the app business is booming right now. In other words, there are endless apps that are designed to assist the elderly in times of need or medical emergencies. We’ve analyzed some of our favorite ones, and have narrowed their down various features—here are the ones we find most helpful and why:
Just like the name implies, this app is designed to help when an emergency (especially a fall) occurs. When setting up the app, users create an emergency contact list. Then, if an emergency occurs, the app sends a rescue notification and GPS location to those selected contacts. The fall detection activates after it believes a fall has occurred. Immediately following that fall, the app continuously checks the position of the user, sending out a distress call if they don’t make any movements within one minute. This could potentially be lifesaving, consider some elderly people might lose consciousness when they fall (or they might fall because they’ve lost consciousness), in which case they would not have the ability to press the traditional alert button device.
The joys of technology have brought along another excellent app that is useful for seniors who have lost a little bit of their mobility or ability to care for themselves without assistance.
This app allows first responders direct access to a senior’s medical history during an emergency. Just like the previous version of this app included on the iPhone, you’re able to create a medical profile that shares your allergies, current medications, conditions you suffer from, and more—and it shows up on the screen of your phone, even when it’s locked. Once a senior has a fall or other emergency and they press their alert button, EMTs will be able to access their already-set medical history.
One of the scariest parts about being in an emergency and struggling with memory loss is that a senior citizen might not always know exactly where they are or what they’re doing there. If an emergency comes up and they’re in need of help, there’s no way to ensure they’ll offer the right location to be reached at—and that’s where Tracker Assist comes in.
Its GPS tracking is a life saver for the senior who gets a flat or starts to wander off in the grocery store. A custom SOS message is sent to selected contacts with a map and directions to their current location, meaning help is finally just around the corner.
This app is much like out Freedom Wandering Prevention device, which gives caregivers and loved ones peace of mind by setting movable safe zones inside or outdoors using the portable receiver. If these safe zones are crossed, the Freedom watch sets off an alarm, and sends the wander’s current location by email and/or text message directly to the caregiver or a call station.
Getting the elderly back on their feet with the help of technology
Falling isn’t fun for anyone regardless of age, but it can be especially dangerous for older folks, who often lack the strength to regain their upright posture, and whose bodies require longer healing time. Whether your senior is healthfully aging in place at home, or they’re battling an illness associated with aging, we’re here to make sure you’re fully equipped with everything you need as you care for them. Don’t let a lack of preparation or a lack of tools prevent you from delivering the best care for your senior.
Caring Solutions provides medical alert devices, medication dispensers, and related products for the purpose of providing extended care and peace of mind for the adult children and caregivers of the elderly. Along with helpful Smartphone applications like the ones we’ve just touched upon, our service help to ensure the safety, comfort, and wellbeing of both you and your loved one!
There’s great importance for annual doctor’s visits and reviews
Getting older is a fact of life. As much as many of us dream of a fountain of youth that will keep us young and healthy forever, the reality is that it doesn’t exists and we must ensure that we take care of ourselves as we age. Moreover, we must also place a great emphasis on ensuring that our parents and loved ones are also able to age both comfortably and safely.
Growing up, your parents likely brought you to your pediatrician each year for a check up. As we get older, some of us get out of that habit—and it’s not a good habit to break. Sure, much of the time, your body does what it’s supposed to and not going to the doctor isn’t the end of the world. Other times, that isn’t the case—and this becomes especially more likely as you get older. Now consider this case in terms of your parents and older loved ones. If they may not be able to realize when something is off kilter, how will you be able to detect possible ailments and areas that could benefit from diagnosis, treatment, and proper medication?
The truth is, sometimes you just aren’t able to. And even if your senior is already on an ample medication regimen, it’s important to schedule annual medication reviews (at the minimum) to ensure that everything is working effectively and is still necessary.
An annual medication review allows your loved one’s physician to identify and correct possible common, medication-related issues. It’s an important safety measure that helps you and your senior get the maximum benefits from their medication while safeguarding their health.
Is everything working as expected?
It is very possible for a medication to become either ineffective or weakened over time. A medication review helps both you and your loved one understand the strengths, effects, possible adverse reactions, and proper use of each medicine; even if it is one that your loved one has been prescribed for a decent amount of time.
Your senior’s physician will be able to provide a medication list that is accurate, complete, and personalized. You will be able to rest easy knowing that your loved one is prescribed accurate and effective medications in order to age safely and comfortably at home.
Over time, proper dosage rates have the possibility of changing depending on your senior’s unique needs. A doctor or physician has the ability to review all dosages and regimens, and may decide to alter the frequency of medication intake for optimization.
However, changing the dosage of multiple prescriptions can be confusing and, at times, hard to manage. In order to ensure that your senior is able to follow a new schedule, a medication dispenser such as the Medready Medication Dispenser from Caring Solutions LLC can offer great support. The dispenser features a lockable, timed-alarm system that provides scheduled medication dosages automatically. That way, you can rest assured knowing that a new medication schedule is monitored and only available (and unlocked) at the proper time.
General changes in overall health
Your loved one’s symptoms may have improved, new, more comprehensive medications may have been developed, and generally, it’s just a good idea to make sure you, your senior, and the doctor are still on the same page with medication management. Whatever the case, you’re only going to know with the advice of a doctor.
At least annually, if not more often, it’s important to schedule a medication review for your senior. As we have touched upon, the benefits of a medication check-up and update are vast, and the accelerated assurance will better allow for your senior to live a more comfortable, safe, and healthy life at home.
Help prevent falls and ease your mind with these tips
If you have senior loved ones, chances are you’ve either experienced them having a bad fall, or have imagined it happening multiple times in your head. Aging is just a part of life—one most have to deal with more than once throughout their lives, whether it’s watching a loved one get older or experiencing it themselves. But the good news is that prevention practices and tips can keep you and you and your loved one safe and at ease.
There are many ways to ensure that your loved ones are able to age comfortably at home, from taking advantage of medical alert devices to medication dispensers and in-home care; you can streamline care and protection. One thing you can incorporate into your daily regimen is fall prevention exercises!
Why are falls so dangerous?
When you fall, your muscle mass can act as cushion, taking away some of the impact and protecting your body from injury. Falls can be dangerous at any age, but as you age and begin to lose muscle mass, falls become more of a risk and it becomes more important to try and avoid them in the first place.
You not only need to worry about the fall itself, but also the consequent decrease in activity after the injury, which can cause losses in muscle mass and range of motion. When you’re young, your body can recover quickly and decreased activity is often only a minor setback, but for seniors, it can mean long-term immobility and increased risk of death. On top of the physical effects, it can also cause a loss of independence, which is a hard thing for any human to accept.
What can you do to prevent falls?
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends participating in fall prevention programs. These programs are designing to improve balance, agility, strength and coordination with the goal of enabling adults to move more quickly when they start losing balance. Good senses of balance, agility, and coordination allow you to reduce the speed of the fall and react more quickly to changing surfaces.
How do you get started in fall prevention programs?
Depending on the current mobility of the senior in question, you can enroll them in a program that will help improve their current balance, agility, strength and coordination, or they can start doing exercises at home with some help!
Check out these popular and valuable exercises:
• Hip flexion and abduction (improve strength and balance)
• Single leg stance variations (improve balance)
• Front and side leg swings (improve agility and coordination)
What else can you do?
On top of fall prevention programs and exercises, you can make changes at home to reduce the risk of falls:
• Reduce tripping hazards (remove throw rugs and clutter)
• Keep staircases well lit and use nightlights
• Install grab bars in tubs/showers and by toilets
Knowing that a loved one has fallen, or is at risk of falling, can be a terrifying thing, but there are ways for you to reduce the chances of an accident happening. Don’t let a fall get the best of someone you care about because they weren’t prepared. Check us out at Caring Solutions, LLC to learn more about what you can do to keep your loved ones as safe, comfortable, and healthy as possible!
Prevention is the key to your loved one’s safety (and your peace of mind)
If you have a senior loved one, the risk of falls is likely one of your biggest concerns. And with good reason: Falls are the number one cause of injury, hospital visits, and deaths among the elderly. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a senior adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall every 11 seconds, and every 19 minutes a senior dies from one.
As alarming as these statistics are, there are ways to help mitigate the risk of falling. Knowing what causes falls and how to prevent them is one of the best ways to protect your senior. Take a look:
Seniors with poor or impaired vision often fall for obvious reasons. And while your loved one may have glasses, it’s key to make sure that their prescription is up-to-date and that he or she is routinely wearing them as prescribed.
It’s not uncommon for a senior to take numerous medications on a daily basis. Yet, many times, one or more of them (or the combination of several) can cause an individual to lose balance, experience dizziness, or feel lightheaded, increasing the risk of falling. Although these medicines may be necessary, it’s a good idea to check with a physician or pharmacist to ensure that there are no interactions happening or dangerous side effects.
Lack of exercise
As your loved one ages, a decrease in physical activity is expected. But too little movement can decrease muscle strength, bone mass, and flexibility, which increases the likelihood that he or she will lose their balance. Even a small amount of exercise (a 30 minute walk a few days a week) can help keep an individual strong and reduce the risk of falls.
Hazards in the home
While many people assume that the safest place for their senior is in their home, the opposite is often the case. In fact, according to a handbook written by retired orthopedic surgeon Dr. M.E. Hecht, 70 percent of serious injuries requiring emergency room visits happen within or just about 30 yards from the home. It’s important to go through your loved one’s residence and ensure that any potential dangers are corrected or eliminated. Things to look for include:
• Loose rugs or carpets: Either get rid of them or ensure they are properly secured to prevent tripping
• Clean up clutter: Make sure hallways and doorways are free and clear of any piles of household items, boxes, etc.
• Lighting: Get nightlights for the hall, bedroom, and bathroom and make sure there is ample lighting throughout the home
• Non-slip mats: Add these to the bathroom and kitchen to reduce the risk of falling on slippery floors
• Power cords: Dangling or loose power cords should be tucked away and removed from areas where your loved one walks
What you can do to reduce the risk of falls
Falls among the elderly are common but not inevitable, and there are ways for you to reduce the risk. In addition to going room to room in your senior’s home and eliminating the obvious dangers, invest in safety features, including:
• Grab bars in the bathroom
• A toilet seat riser and safety bar in the bathroom
• A bed railing in the bedroom
• A safety pole in the living room
• Recliner risers or a chair lifter in the living room
In addition, you can provide your senior with a medical alert system that ensures that he or she can get help immediately if a fall does occur. There are numerous products available, including wearable devices that are easily activated even if an individual has been injured.
Although falls can be frightening, prevention will give you the peace of mind that you’ve done all you can to reduce the risks. If a fall or injury does occur, ensure that your loved one is equipped with a medical alert device. Visit Caring Solutions, LLC online to browse essential medical alert devices, medication dispensers, and much more.
Innovative tools to deter, distract, and track
When a senior loved one begins to wander, it’s alarming. And unfortunately, this behavior is common among elderly who are suffering with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Unfortunately, ceasing the behavior is not always possible and can be difficult to constantly monitor. However, the main concern of family members should be to ensure that if their loved one does wander, that they stay safe can be located before getting lost. When dealing with wandering, these are some of the most helpful insights and solutions:
There are numerous options when it comes to GPS tracking devices. The goal of these gadgets is to ensure that your loved one will be located as quickly as possible if they should stray from their expected location. With trackers, you have the option of going with a product that your family member wears or carries. There are watches, bracelets, necklaces, and even shoe inserts. These devices come with various features, including the ability to text or email preprogrammed addresses affiliated with the person/device as soon as the senior moves outside a predetermined area. Some trackers even display a map if the individual is on the move, and how far they are from your current location.
Radio Frequency LOCATORS
Similar to a GPS tracker, your loved one would wear a special bracelet that can be traced by radio frequency if he or she goes missing. When you or another family member reports your senior lost, the provider sends out a signal that allows them to track down their location.
Having an alarm installed that will sound or send an alert when doors are opened is an option that many family members choose to utilize. As with the other devices, there are several different alarms available, including silent alarms that send a signal to a preprogrammed number or emergency personnel as well as audible alarms that alert caregivers or family members of the door being opened.
Although there’s no technology involved, this innovative solution can help prevent a senior from wandering. Door murals won’t track your loved one or alert you of their movement, but their presence can act as a deterrent for wandering.
The mural itself, which affixes easily to a door, disguises the exit and create the illusion that there is a bookcase or other objects on that surface. Thus, the senior doesn’t view the area as an opportunity to leave and won’t attempt to exit.
Wandering among the elderly is distressing and increasing as generations are living longer and longer. To protect your loved one, it’s critical to be proactive about the situation and implement safety solutions right away. For more information on ways you can help your family member, be sure to check our blog often and talk to us about our wandering prevention devices.
There are many options – here’s how to find the perfect match for your loved one.
When it comes to your senior loved one who has chosen to age in place, ensuring their safety is always top priority. And after you’ve gone through the home, eliminating dangers like loose rugs and clutter, installing grab bars and non-slip mats, putting a bedrail in the bedroom and taking other steps to reduce the risks, many folks invest in a medical alert system. Because even with safety features in place, there’s still a possibility that he or she may fall or be unable to call for help when they need it. Medical alert systems provide an added sense of security and peace of mind for you and your family member, simply by knowing that he or she will be able to get help when they need it.
To assist you in choosing the best system, we’ve put together this guide on how they work, what to look for, and what questions to ask potential vendors. Take a look:
What types of providers are out there?
As you can imagine, there are a variety of options when it comes to medical alert systems and the level of service that’s provided. Choosing the right one depends on where your senior lives and how independent he or she is. Some systems connect to a call center and dispatch emergency responders directly to the home, others can be preprogrammed with a list of family and/or friends’ phone numbers and will automatically call when activated.
How do they work?
Of course, it all depends on the type. But in general, a medical alert system allows the senior to call for help with just the touch of a button. They usually include a base unit that is connected to the main phone line or a cellular chip connected wirelessly to a tower. If your senior falls or is in need of help for any other reason, he or she pushes a panic button, which could be a bracelet or necklace, which then activates the base station. A monitoring station or call center is called, and help is immediately dispatched
What options are available?
With the constant advances in technology these days, it’s not surprising that medical alert systems continue to evolve. In addition to the traditional systems, many companies are providing added capabilities like GPS – which gives the senior who’s more active and mobile protection when they’re outside the home.
Auto fall detection, another fairly new option in the industry, is equipped with a sensor that can detect when your loved one falls and automatically send an alert without having to be activated by the wearer. Whether you choose a standard system or one with all the bells and whistles, it’s always good to know what’s available and how they can enhance safety.
Choosing the right one
Before deciding on a medical alert system, it’s always a good idea to ask each potential provider several questions to determine if their service is the right fit. Once you’ve got your list of questions and answers, you can then compare to determine the right level of service and equipment at the most affordable price. Here are the top questions you should be asking:
What kind of equipment do you provide?
Do they offer landline or celllar, and does their service include fall detection and GPS capabilities?
Where does the call go?
Does it automatically alert emergency responders, a call center, or friends and loved ones?
How long does it take to get it installed?
Some systems are easily installed and can be set up by a consumer. Others require installation, and the provider should tell you upfront how long it will take and if there is an installation fee.
Are they available evenings, weekends, and holidays?
You should be able to contact your provider 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including nights, weekends, and holidays.
Are there any long-term contracts?
Be sure to ask if you have to sign a contract, if they charge cancellation fees, and if there is a minimum amount of months that you have to pay for. Different providers have different options, so don’t be afraid to compare.
Is there pre-payment?
While it’s not required, some providers will offer pre-payment discounts, while others require you to make a payment upfront.
What do the fees include?
Is there a charge for equipment, installation, and activation? Are there monitoring or false alarm fees? Ask about any hidden charges that you may incur.
What about the call center?
How long has the call center been operating and where is it located?
Are they available 24/7?
What’s the average response time?
How much training does their staff receive?
What are testing procedures for the systems?
How often are tests performed?
Choosing the right medical alert system and provider can be daunting. After all, you’re trusting them with the safety of your loved one and with the task of responding appropriately to ensure that even if an emergency happens, your senior will get the help they need right away. Before making a decision, be sure you ask these questions and closely review the available options.
And for assistance, check out our website and view the various medical alert devices we offer at Caring Solutions, LLC!
Don’t wait until it happens: be prepared to protect your loved one
It’s an alarming statistic—six in ten people with Alzheimer’s or dementia will wander. This, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, is not only very normal behavior for people struggling with these conditions, it’s dangerous. In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association also reports that if not found within 24 hours, up to half of these people will suffer serious injury or death.
If you’ve ever seen a silver alert on the news or you’ve witnessed this behavior first-hand with your senior family member, you understand the severity of wandering and the challenges of trying to prevent it. Here’s an overview that will explain why Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers wander and what you can do to ensure your loved one is safe:
Why do they wander?
Although it may appear that a senior is just aimlessly wandering, many times they do have a reason. Whether they’re trying to return to their childhood home (which may or may not be in the same state or even country), or they’re under the impression that they have an appointment, many times the wanderer is truly on a quest. That being said, there are other reasons for this behavior including:
• The longing to go “home”
How to keep them safe
Ensuring that your loved one remains safe is a definite challenge for anyone who’s caring for a senior who wanders. Even those who have a live-in home health aide have been known to get out of the house without notice, especially at night. The risks of this type of behavior are obvious, and despite what you may believe, whether they’re wandering by car or foot, it’s critical to have some safeguards in place to protect them from harm:
• Hire a caregiver who will reside with your loved one around the clock
• Alert neighbors that your loved one is at risk for wandering and provide them with contact information in the event they witness your family member leaving the home
• Enroll your loved one in your local silver alert or similar registry
• Relocate your loved one’s car at your home or another family member’s home
• Consider a memory care or assisted living facility
Consider tracking tools and technology
Sometimes, even after all precautions have been taken, a senior who is a practiced “escape artist” will still slip out unbeknownst to their family or caregiver and in these cases, tracking them down as quickly as possible can mean the difference between life and death. Here are some tools and technologies that you may want to consider:
• GPS tracking devices: These devices help track down a loved one who has wandered and provides their location
• Door alarms: There are numerous choices that include silent alarms that send a signal to a loved one or emergency personnel or an audio alarm that alerts a caregiver when the patient has left the building
• Tracking watches: Another type of GPS tracker, these watches can be programmed to alert family members or caregivers when the wearer has wandered outside of a predetermined safe zone
• Sole trackers: A discreet device that is placed inside your loved one’s shoe. If he or she ventures past their specified zone, an alert via text is sent to family members or caregivers with the exact location
• Pocket trackers: As small as a credit card, this waterproof device will provide you with your loved one’s location, what direction they’re traveling in, how close (in miles) you are to their location, and will update you via text or email as changes occur. It also offers the ability to preprogram several “geo-fences” and will alert you when your loved one has traveled outside of them.
Wandering among seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s is a growing problem in the United States. If you have a family member who is struggling with either of these conditions, or you are concerned that he or she is already beginning to wander, the time to take action is right away.
For more information about issues that affect your senior loved one, please visit our blog often. And, if you would like guidance on choosing the right products to keep him or her safe in their own, give us a call for personalized assistance.
These solutions can help your senior manage medication and maintain their independence
Staying independent is one of the biggest concerns that seniors face. Having the ability to remain in their own home and to take care of themselves seems like a pretty reasonable goal. And with the advent of today’s wide array of products designed to make life easier and safe for your loved one, even those who have medical conditions or mobility challenges are often able to safely age in place.
That being said, medication management is a huge concern for those in need of multiple prescriptions and supplements each day. Remembering which to take and when, as well as maintaining proper dosages, can be quite tricky. However, there are several options of available that will aid in keeping them safe and on track.
As you can imagine, there are numerous types of pill dispensers on the market today, including those that give your loved one an alert when it’s time to take a medication. The alert can be an audio tone like a beep or visual alert such as a flashing light. Some products provide all of types of alerts and repeat them in 30-minute intervals until the person takes the medication and resets the signal timer.
Other products, like the locked dispenser, are designed for those who may be in danger of taking the wrong meds at the wrong time. On this one, each compartment is locked and will only open when it is time for that medication to be taken. Depending on your senior’s personality and medical challenges, there are numerous options and customizations for pill dispensers.
Simple and easy to use, pill organizers are simply containers that hold the medicines for each day in compartments marked with the days of the week. Your loved one, their caregiver, or a family member can set up the medications for the week by placing the pills for each day into their specific compartment. This allows your loved one to see what they have or have not taken. For seniors who aren’t suffering with dementia or any other memory disorder, an organizer can be very helpful. The only drawback is that is doesn’t send reminders if the pills are forgotten to be taken.
Monitored medication dispensers
A monitored medication dispenser will send a series of alerts when it’s time for your medication to be taken, but it will take it one step further by calling, emailing, or texting your senior’s caregiver when a dose is missed. The dispenser also ensures that the wrong meds aren’t taken at the wrong times, because only the right medication is automatically dispensed at the specified time.
Whether your loved one is living all on their own, or receiving some assistance from a family member or home aide, ensuring that he or she is taking the right doses at the right times is key to keeping them safe and healthy. These products are designed to provide an easier and more efficient way of managing medications and to provide an added peace of mind that your senior is not missing any of their prescribed treatments.
For more information on caring for your senior, or to get personalized product recommendations that can assist him or her in remaining independent, get in touch with us today.
And why you don’t necessarily have to go that route.
Currently, 44 percent of men and 57 percent of women older than 65 take five or more medications each day. Even more surprising – approximately 12 percent take 10 or more every day! And for seniors who are struggling with a myriad of challenges, the reliance on (and mixing of) all of these medications has the potential to cause numerous issues.
If you have discovered that your family member is forgetting to take their meds, or is taking too much or not enough, you’re not alone. Many adult children find that medication management is one of their biggest concerns regarding the health and safety of their loved ones. But while relocating your senior to an assisted living facility may seem like a positive solution, there are many ways you can help them manage medications safely while allowing them to remain at home. Here’s an overview on what causes some management issues and how to solve them. Take a look:
Even if your loved one isn’t suffering with Alzheimer’s or dementia, remembering to take medications can be difficult. Each of us can relate to forgetting even the most important things in life – and the older we get, the harder this becomes. So if you consider the fact that your senior may be taking five or six different medications per day, it’s not surprising that he or she may often overlook taking one or two of them from time to time.
Another factor that contributes to medication confusion is the fact that some medicines need to be taken twice a day, before or with meals, and not at the same time as their other meds. So the issue is not just about what needs to be taken, but also about when.
The wrong dosage
It’s really easy for anyone to take the wrong amount of any medication. Everyone can relate to taking too much or too little of a particular medication at one time or another. But for the elderly, who are taking half-a-dozen pills a day, the wrong dosage is all too easy and potentially dangerous. Add to that the numerous medical or memory challenges that some seniors face, and the situation becomes that much more serious.
Another relatively common behavior among seniors is discontinuing the use of a certain medication simply because they feel better and assume they don’t need it anymore. This happens often, especially with antibiotics. Although an individual may not be feeling the effects of the infection or illness, it doesn’t mean that the issue has been completely resolved. On the contrary, all physicians and pharmacists will stress the importance of finishing off the entire prescription of antibiotics because the entire course of medication is necessary to eliminate the underlying illness.
Solutions to medication management issues
For obvious reasons, medication management is an issue that must be addressed immediately. If your loved one is taking multiple prescriptions and supplements daily, helping them avoid mistakes and ensuring they take everything when they’re supposed to is a definite priority. Here are some tips:
Label every RX with the why, when, and how: Although they are marked by the pharmacy, make sure your senior knows what each medication is for, when they are supposed to take it, and if they need to take it with meals.
Make and update a medication list on a regular basis: List all medications, their dosages, frequency, and purpose on one comprehensive document. Make sure it’s updated whenever a new med is added or discontinued. Be sure to keep a copy of this updated list posted clearly on the refrigerator (or other noticeable area) so that it is accessible to emergency personnel in case of emergency.
Ask questions: Some medications interfere with others or have side effects that may cause more harm than good. As an advocate, be sure to talk to the pharmacist and get the low down on any and all drug interactions and side effects.
Medication reminder tools: There are numerous products that can help your loved one remember to take their meds and to assist with ensuring they take the right doses, including vibrating watches, pill boxes, and alarms. At Caring Solutions, LLC, we offer medication dispensers that send alerts via mobile device or landline to caregivers. Caregivers are then able to remotely manage alert times, change device (and dose) settings, trigger early doses, and change non-compliance notification contacts and methods.
While difficulty managing medications is common among the elderly, there are a lot of ways you can help. If you’re concerned, follow these tips and do some research on tools that can make it easier and less stressful for both you and your senior.
At Caring Solutions, you’ll find an array of products and solutions that can assist your loved one with managing their medications. For more helpful information on these and related issues, contact us today.