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While there are many books for caregivers and senior care in general, few are able to distinguish themselves as part workbook, part resource and part guide. The author, Walt Sonksen has done a nice job putting all three together in this easy-to-read caregiver workbook. In this book, Walt shares life experiences, as well as those lessons learned from the deaths of his own parents. The book encompasses many aspects of family care… Such as gathering personal information and wishes, transition planning, safety concerns, caregiving options, financial and legal issues, and community resources.
This handbook is meant to be used before a crisis so the family and their designated caregivers can spend more quality time with their family member.
Plan Ahead: Tools for the Caregiver is a workbook that can be used and written in and is small enough to fit in a purse or tablet pouch. This is a tool that you will use over time and will add to it as you go along the journey of caregiving. Some of the information is specific to Oregon and Washington, the author resides in the Northwest, however a reader who is resourceful will be able to access similar information for their own area. The book is geared to the adult caregiver and is focused on senior care, but could apply to any caregiving situation (dependent children, etc…). Throughout the book you will find checklists, tidbits, personal stories and encouragement. Several well-respected leaders in the elder care field are also contributors to topics like senior living options, downsizing and moving, and mental health.
The book can be purchased on Amazon for a list price of $16.95. Additional details and a downloadable Emergency Medical Packet are available at the website, www.planaheadtools.com.
If you’ve ever wondered; Do I need a hearing aid? You just might… Professionals will tell you that hearing loss is such a gradual decline that folks with hearing issues are usually the last to know. Many times they blame hearing issues on others, believing friends are mumbling, or perhaps they’re “quiet talkers” (to steal a Seinfeldism).
Do I need a hearing aid?
News reporter Emily Robinson interviews Heather Bennett, an audiologist with Advanced Hearing Centers for some great tips on what to expect if you think you might need a hearing aid. First step (and most obvious on the list) is to get yourself tested. Find a local qualified resource that can professionally diagnose your specific situation, and get some unbiased information on what options are available to you. A number of audiologists sell hearing aids and will likely want to sell you one that they stock.
Buying a hearing aid from an audiologist isn’t a bad idea, but understand what you’re buying before you take the plunge. Search online for equivalent hearing aid prices, and don’t be afraid to negotiate with sellers. Did you know that Costco is now in the hearing aid business? Bottom line is that consumers need to do their homework more than ever. The old adage about making a good purchasing decision still holds true to this day; Buy right… Cry once.
The Senior List surveyed medical alert system subscribers and found that customer satisfaction results are mixed (at best). The survey which spanned late 2013 to February of 2014 illustrated how vulnerable medical alert providers are to competition in this space. A full third of respondents noted that when their agreement (contract) was up, they were leaving their current provider. This is in stark contrast to 18% of respondents that said they were very satisfied, and they would recommend their medical alert provider. Key takeaway: There are some really good medical alert providers… and some to stay away from.
The medical alert landscape is changing. This industry is going digital and mobile. An industry that once tethered users to within 600 feet of the home (base station), has grown wings. What was once dubbed “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” has now morphed into “I’m going shopping, but just in case I’ll take my medical alert system along”.
A number of manufacturers now monitor their users via a cellular signal just like the phone in your pocket. This allows family members a safety-net in case of emergencies. Another nice feature of cellular based medical alert systems is that they have built in GPS tracking to locate users if needed.
If you’re interested in the good, the bad, and the ugly of medical alert systems make yourself familiar with the comments section while you browse through our product reviews. Folks here aren’t afraid to speak up… Especially if they’re not happy. Keep this in mind when you’re taking in comments from any product review site however. Folks expect providers to at least meet expectations, and when they don’t, there can be a backlash.
What’s interesting (and telling) is to see the response (or lack thereof) by providers after a misstep. Quality medical alert providers are transparent, responsive and fair to their customers. Stay away from the ones that are rigid, secretive and unresponsive.
Lesson learned: Do your homework. Ask the right questions. Know your rights. Read the fine print.
Modern technology has definitely helped us go through our lives with ease. But for our seniors, living alone can be tough and dangerous at times. With advancing age, some basic tasks require help from caregivers or loved ones. To help seniors keep or regain their independence while keeping an eye on safety, here are some devices that can help out. These gadgets are designed for the elderly, and will help them remain safe and secure.
Mobile Alert Systems
Commonly known as Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS) help seniors live independently. Some of these systems are tethered or attached to a phone line, and the range is limited to a person’s home. Thanks to technology, these systems are getting smaller and mobile. From pendants to wrist-worn devices, seniors can now move freely outside the home and remain in contact with . An example of this would be our previous featured Verizonwireless’ SureResponse Medical Alert System. It allows users to contact their caregivers or loved one via cellular technology. Other companies are also offering the same service and technologies for the elderly. Learn more about this device on our previous post.
By the year 2050, almost 15 million Americans will be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. To date, it’s the 5th leading cause of death for people aged 65 and above. With almost 300 dementia-stricken loved-ones wandering or getting lost each day, the GPS-enabled shoe was born. Developed by the GTX Corp and Aextrex Worldwide, this shoe has a built-in mini locator on its heel and counterweights on the other end for balance. The shoe was originally to be used to track missing children but is now targeted for adults with cognitive deficits. Since shoes are one of the most familiar objects for daily use, patients exhibiting signs of dementia or cognitive disorders won’t reject them.
Courtesy of gtxcorporation
Senior-friendly Mobile Phones
Smartphones may the in-thing for the young but it can be a nightmare for the elderly. Although, they have smart features, seniors need basic and intuitive. Seniors dread being alone or isolated, and mobile phones can help them feel connected. Phones like the Clarity mobile phone from Plantronics Inc. fit the bill. It has a textured case which allows for an easier grip and is designed with four buttons: “Call”, “End Call”, and two buttons to navigate through the contacts list. Since most seniors aged 64 to 75 years old suffer from hearing loss, the phone has an amplifier, making it louder than regular mobile phones. These types of mobile phones can help seniors live independently, while giving loved ones peace of mind.
Electronic Pill Dispensers and other Assistive Devices
Helping seniors live independently can be challenging, especially when it comes to medications. Most seniors are required to take at least four medications per day. To help organize their daily dose of medicines, electronic pill dispensers are a must. Aside from dispensing pills, these devices can also remind them when they need to take their medicines. According to research conducted by the National Institute for Aging, using electronic medication reminders help seniors take their daily doses on time. Also, these assistive devices prevent mixing drugs that can result in adverse effects that may lead to death. Do your research on the best pill dispenser for your loved one, and find out what’s best for them.
These are four quality elder care technologies that are must-haves. Although there are other gadgets and mobile apps that also help, we believe the equipment presented are necessary to keep our loved ones safe. What other new senior-friendly technologies can you recommend?
The folks at OneCall Medical Alert reached out to The Senior List on Twitter and asked us to share some information regarding one of our favorite topics. That topic: “How to Choose A Personal Emergency Response System” (also known as a medical alert system). They offer some good advice that’s worth sharing. Weather you’re choosing a mobile medical alert system or a traditional (in-home) style medical alert system, you’ll want to make sure that the provider can answer the following questions (special thanks to the folks at OneCall):
Choosing the Right Medical Alert System
- Is the provider accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB)? The BBB’s mission is “to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust.” The BBB says they “see trust as a function of two primary factors – integrity and performance. Integrity includes respect, ethics and intent. Performance speaks to a business’s track record of delivering results in accordance with BBB standards and/or addressing customer concerns in a timely, satisfactory manner.” That said, there are a whole lot of businesses that have high ratings on the BBB, and just like any directory site you can’t take it as the gospel. You’ve go to look around at other reputable review sites like Angie’s List and (of course) The Senior List.
- Are you locked into a long-term contract? We agree with the folks at OneCall. Unless you absolutely trust the medical alert provider you decide to choose, don’t sign a long-term contract! There are plenty of reputable providers out there that don’t push these silly contracts. Companies like GreatCall, Philips Lifeline and OneCall are good examples of no-contract alert systems. (*Note that OneCall does require 3 months of prepaid service at activation.)
- Does the medical alert provider have multiple emergency call centers? This is probably a good question to ask, but more importantly how dependable is the call center? If you search around for medical alert system reviews, you’ll probably receive some feedback on this topic. OneCall says that you should also “ask where their emergency call center is located, if they have more than one emergency call center, and if a contingency plan is in place in case a call center is shut down” (because of a storm or other natural disaster). These are great questions!
- Is the system easy to set up and test? You’ll want to be clear on how to set up the device in your home, AND how to test it (on a regular basis). Medical alert systems are not doing you any good if they aren’t in good working order. Further inquiries need to be made regarding maintenance (batteries need to be tested and/or replaced,coverage area needs to be tested and retested, etc.).
- Does the provider have flexible payment options? Most top providers do have options (monthly, quarterly, annual) but regardless of your payment option, make sure you understand what the implications are if your loved one decides to leave the provider (for another), or is no longer in need of the medical alert system (perhaps they move into a care facility, or they pass away).
These are great questions to ask when evaluating a medical alert provider. We’d recommend these questions in conjunction with our popular post entitled Medical Alert Systems: The Top 10 Questions You Should Ask Before Buying.
Know Before You Go - It will save you one heck of a headache!
In follow-up to our earlier post prior to the iPhone 5S announcement today, we thought you might like to see the latest video’s for both the iPhone 5S and iOS 7. BTW for the record most of the rumors surrounding the new iPhone were right on point. Enjoy!
Latest iPhone 5S Video
Latest iOS 7 Video
Latest iPhone 5C Video
Well today is the day Apple fans. Apple’s much anticipated iPhone 5S and 5C are expected to be unveiled today at 10 a.m. PT. Just 3 questions remain ahead of this morning’s announcement; 1. Anything special about this iPhone? 2. When will it be available? and 3. What else with they tease us with? Our predictions follow:
What’s so special about the iPhone 5S?
Rumors have been swirling for months about the iPhone 5S and it’s cheaper cousin the 5C. The latest (feature) rumors include a dual LED flash, fingerprint scanner, longer lasting battery, faster processor, higher resolution, more color options, more RAM, more (storage) memory, better camera, and these beasts will ship with the new redesigned iOS7. IF you don’t have an iPhone 5 yet, it’s time to upgrade. IF you already have the iPhone 5, you might consider waiting for the iPhone 6 (unless you have $200-$300 dollars burning a hole in your pocket). A new gold colored 5S wouldn’t be enough for me to upgrade from 5 to 5S, but hey that’s just me!
When will the iPhone 5S be available?
Well if Apple follows their traditional pattern, it will be available on September 20th, which would be 10 days following today’s announcement. They could surprise us with immediate availability in some markets but that’s not likely. Note: The Apple Store is currently “down” and being updated.
What will Apple Tease Us With?
It could be on of a few things. First, wearables are all the rage. There’s been speculation about an iWatch all over the place. Samsung recently announced their Samsung Galaxy Gear SmartWatch (a connected iWatch like device) and apple has been rumored to be dabbling in wearables for some time now. Apple could also announce Apple TV enhancements, larger screen phones coming soon… (Can you say iPhone 6?), and/or an updated iPad line-up.
If you’re interested, click through to read our top 10 iPhone apps for Seniors 2012. We’ll be following all the action down in Cupertino… Will you?
Back in June we wrote about the delayed launch of Philips new flagship medical alert system called GoSafe. We wrote:
“The new Philips GoSafe product is the latest in a line of newer mobile medical alert systems which uses the same cellular signal as your cell phone. Instead of being tethered to a home phone-line, the consumer can take these new devices with them wherever they go (out to work in the yard, to the mall, or to a doctor’s appointment). This new mobility feature is what separates the new mobile devices from their traditional (tethered) cousins.” — The Senior List.com
Earlier this year, Philip’s representatives told The Senior List to expect a commercial launch of GoSafe around fall of 2013. Now Philips tells us GoSafe will launch sometime around December of this year. We aren’t sure what the delay is, but these things occur all the time in the medical device industry. Frankly, you’re better off getting it right (before getting out of the gate) when you have a product launch of this magnitude. You only get one chance at a national (or global) launch. All Philips has to do is look at Big Red (Verizon Wireless) to see how to screw-up the national launch of a much anticipated new medical alert system (we’re talking about you SureResponse). Someone once said “better to be safe than sorry”… We’re guessing Philips is taking this to heart, and wants to get it right the first time.
In advance of the launch, Philips has been putting together some marketing resources including this video (below). We’re actually excited for this entry into the mobile medical alert system market. The GoSafe has all the makings of brand-leader if Philips executes on their marketing strategy, AND focuses on customer satisfaction.
We’ll keep an eye on this sector as it continues to evolve. We’re guessing the best is yet to come when it comes to safety for seniors outside the home. The GoSafe might just be the best of the bunch, but we’ll have to wait and see.
If you’ve visited The Senior List before you know that we love to post about technology, and how it affects the lives of boomers and seniors. One way we do this is through product reviews, and another is through informative posts about the latest happenings in eldercare. Some of the most interesting information comes from YOU (The Senior List community). When readers become engaged, the comments come alive. When the comments come alive, we can all relate and learn from each other.
Top Home Based Medical Alert Systems
One example of this is a popular post we wrote back in 2012, highlighting many of the top home based medical alert systems on the market. That particular post offers a nice list of “tethered” (to a traditional home phone line) medical alert systems, with links to product reviews. What is really interesting is the feedback in the comments located below that article. There’s a lot of great information located on that page, and we’d like to thank those of you that have shared your experiences. One of our chief goals is to continue to build a community that offers advice to others… A helping hand if you will!
“When readers become engaged, the comments come alive. When the comments come alive, we can all relate and learn from each other.”
List of Mobile/Cellular Based Medical Alert Systems
If you’re searching for a list of mobile medical alert systems (cellular based), you’ll find that here on The Senior List as well. We’ve reviewed a number of the top alert systems for seniors including GreatCall’s 5Star, the LifeTrac SecuraTrac, and the SureResponse from Verizon. We’d like to encourage our readers to utilize the comments to voice your opinion following each post if you are so inclined. In doing so, you’ll be providing feedback to others that could prove extremely valuable in their search for the right fit (and function) for any of the devices we discuss here on The Senior List. Don’t forget to offer praise where it’s due either, there are a number of fantastic medical alert system providers out there offering great services to boomers and seniors.
If you (or someone you know) is currently using a medical alert system, we encourage you to take our Medical Alert System Customer Satisfaction Poll (located in the right hand side-bar). Have a great weekend!