USA Today articles

How to Avoid the Caregiving Cost Drain

7 Tips to Beat Caregiver Burn-out

Silver Surfers – Aging and Technology

Paying it Forward – Volunteerism Among Caregivers

How to Have the CARE Conversation

On Demand Caregiver Help

USA Today Spotlight on Caregiving

 

 

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Each November for National Caregiver Month, Media Planet teams with caregiving organizations such as the Caregiver Action Network and experts to showcase the issues of our nation’s 65 million caregivers. This year’s cover story features Montel Williams, TV personality, radio talk show host and actor, a champion for those with mulitple sclerosis (which he lives with) and our nation’s family caregivers (which he became when caring for a daughter with lymphoma).

The special supplement is featured in the November 11, 2016 issue of USA Today as well as seen online at FutureofPersonalHealth.com and other partner sites such as CNN.com.

Our CEO Sherri Snelling is one of the expert contributors to this special caregiving issue. Her articles can be read by clicking on the links below:

 

Click here to read Sherri’s article on a new era of on demand caregiving help:

Caregivers On Demand Help Is Here At Last

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Click here to read Sherri’s article on how to have the CARE Conversation:

How to Have the CARE Conversation

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Click here to read Sherri’s article about the volunteerism spirit of family caregivers:

Paying It Forward – Caregivers Are a Volunteer Force

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2015 USA Today and Media Planet Caregiving Feature

Sherri contributed to the same annual feature supplement last year with these articles:

How to Avoid the Caregiving Cost Drain

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7 Tips to Avoid Caregiver Burn-out

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Silver Surfers: How Technology Helps Seniors and Caregivers

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2013 USA Today and Media Planet Caregiving Feature

Sherri also contributed to the 2013 Caregiving Feature Issue. She provided excerpted celebrity interviews with Holly Robinson Peete and Joan Lunden from her book, A Cast of Caregivers, as the cover story and feature articles for the March 2013 caregiving supplement for USA Today weekend magazine.  The supplement also included the Caregiving Club’s Me Time Monday program.  Read the full supplement here: Caregiving Supplement March 2013

Handle With Care – Episode 1 “Staying Connected Through Technology”

The pilot episode of our new TV show, Handle With Care, is all about the wonderful products of the digital age — how they keep older Americans connected to family, friends and the world and how this gives family caregivers better peace of mind.

One of the great myths about aging in America is that older generations are resistant to new technology.  This episode turns that myth on its head — if technology is adapted for older adults (touchscreens, larger cell phone buttons and numbers, easy way to get email without turning on a computer), the barriers are eliminated and the fun begins!

Watch Handle With Care on RLTV

You can see the new caregiving TV series, Handle With Care, on RLTV (check your Comcast cable for station listings).

You can also view the entire program right here — commercial free in three parts — check right hand sidebar top three boxes.

The Wonderful World of the Digital Age

Caregiving Club technology contributor, Robin Raskin, joins host Sherri Snelling to take viewers through a special inter-generational program developed by Pace University and UnitedHebrew of New Rochelle, New York.  

In this special program, college students become tech “coaches” to assisted living residents teaching them about the Internet, email, videochat, Facebook, Pandora radio, online games, and other useful information that keeps older adults connected via a new computer system called Telikin.

Educating Younger Generations on the Sensitivities of Growing Older

In the program, college students at Pace University have to go through a “sensitivity training” to better understand the physical challenges and impairments that come with being an older adult of age 70, 80, 90 or even 100 (this was one of the most fun segments to film for our pilot).  We asked Pace University Associate Professor Jean F. Coppola and her colleagues at the Pace University Nursing School, Sharon Wexler and Lin Drury, to create a tip sheet for viewers at home who may want to experiment with their children or younger family members on how to be sensitive to grandma, grandpa or other older loved ones.

Pace University Sensitivity Training Tips

For more information about the Pace University inter-generational computer program, contact:  jcoppola@pace.edu

Products Seen in This Episode

In addition to the Telikin system, we also introduced our family caregiver and her 85-year-old father-in-law to some new tech products that helped enhance their communication.  Following is more information on the products and links to the Web sites for in-depth product information and availability:

Telikina wonderful computer system that not only improves dexterity and coordination but is an incredible communication device for seniors and their family members.  The system has a very easy, intuitive software user-interface that is accessed via a touchscreen instead of a traditional mouse device (helpful for those with arthritis or limited dexterity).  Easy-to-understand software buttons can be modified to the user for news and information, internet access, videochat, viewing photos, getting medication reminders, playing online games, joining social networks and more.  Here is how the Telikin is used at the UnitedHebrew assisted living community: Telikin at UnitedHebrew

Jitterbug Phone and Great Call Service – the Jitterbug phone has won numerous awards and consumer acceptance among older adults based on its design of larger buttons, larger numbers, easy buttons for “on” and “off” and other functions, powerful speakers for clear sound even with a hearing aid and a stylish design (we previewed the red phone in our show which was created for the American Heart Association’s “Go Red for Women” campaign – which our 85-year-old male loved!).

The Great Call service is wonderful for anyone — no contracts and no cancellation fees, special new features like medication reminders and the newly added 24/7 LiveNurse app with basic plans starting as low as $14.99 a month.

HP ePrint system – based on the HP digital printer design but with a built-in touchscreen for browsing and printing from the Web, getting email, sending or receiving photos, etc. – as Robin says in the show, this product becomes your “digital post office box” – delivering your daily New York Times, grandchildren photos and more.  The ePrint service assigns you an email account and internet access without having to connect to or use a computer.

Having the Caregiving Conversation About Alternative Living Options

As seen in this episode, our caregiver knows that her father-in-law will not be able to stay alone in his apartment after he is discharged from the hospital recuperating from a broken hip and shoulder.  Falls resulting in emergency room visits happen to more than 2 million seniors every year according to the Centers for Disease Control.  Our caregiver explains that her father-in-law was reluctant to move into an assisted living facility so they discussed doing it on a “trial basis” only.

Today, her father-in-law is thriving — involved in numerous activities and residential events and trips, participating in the Pace University Telikin program, and becoming one of the most popular residents (just wait until after our show premieres – he’ll be the older version of Justin Bieber!)

If you are a caregiver who is needing to have that hard conversation with your loved one about moving to an alternative living situation, or you want to learn more about the various senior living options, here are some resource links that can help you:

Snap for Seniors – one of the best sites for finding a variety of different living facilities searched by type of facility and zip code.  The information includes maps, details of the facility (such as number of residents, special features) and the site also offers helpful tools and tips on how to assess different living options, how to pay, how to have the conversation with your loved one, etc.

Leading Age – offers a directory of non-profit facilities ranging from nursing homes to dementia care facilities to assisted living to senior communities and adult day services.  You can also click here to the page that offers caregivers information on planning ahead and paying for various services and living arrangements.

Caring.com – a great overall caregiving site with a broad range of alternative living options across the caregiving spectrum that also includes “aging in place” services for helping your older loved one to stay in their home as long as possible as well as end-of-life services such as palliative care and hospice.

Handle With Care TV Show

Handle With Care takes viewers on a 30-minute journey through the world of caring for an older parent, an ill spouse or a child with a chronic illness or disability.

The show is the brainchild of Sherri Snelling who felt there was a void in traditional television when it came to an ongoing series about the challenges and rewards of those 65 million Americans who are providing care to a family member, partner or friend.

Handle With Care captures these caregiver stories and brings in experts in the areas of financial planning, technology and health and wellness to help guide the caregivers to simple but hard-to-find solutions.  Funny, frustrating, poignant and powerful – the rainbow of caregiver emotions are captured in this program that will educate and empower viewers in their caregiving journey.

In addition, the show connects viewers to the Caregiving Club Web site to find more information, helpful tips and resources that expand caregiver’s education around topics seen in the show.  Helpful information such as weekly video tips on balancing self-care needs while caregiving, tip sheets and educational Webinars conducted with various partners, such as Lotsa Helping Hands, provide more valuable insights into the world of caregiving.

Meet the Production Team

The program is created, produced and hosted by Sherri Snelling.  The show’s co-producer and director is Kyle Burke, president of Four Leaf Media.  The pilot episode features Robin Raskin of Living in Digital Times, showcasing the wonders of the digital age.  All episodes are shot on location around the country.

Future Episodes

Handle With Care future episodes showcasing caregivers of parents, spouses, partners, siblings and adult children include:

  • Retirement planning and avoiding the caregiving cost drain
  • Senior driving and alternative transportation
  • Caring for our nation’s veterans
  • Home safety:  modifications, the “smart” home and preventing falls
  • Health and wellness:  nutrition, fitness, avoiding burn-out and stress
  • Caregiving and career:  the juggling act
  • Navigating the fragmented health care system
  • Disaster plans – be prepared
  • The spiritual care transition to end-of-life hospice and palliative care
  • And more

To recommend a future topic or submit your story for consideration for a future show, please submit your information on our contact us page.

Click here for more information about Episode 1 “Staying Connected Through Technology.”

Father’s Day 2.0 – From Tool Time to Tech Time

I’m not sure what it is about dads and gadgets but no matter the age of the man in your life – from eighteen to 80 – the latest tech toys will bring a smile to his face this Father’s Day.

Before I go on, I have a little teaser for you – if you read to this end of this blog article – you will find information on a chance to win some of the great new aging technology gadgets out there  . . .

Getting Older . . . Getting “Tech-ier”

There is a myth I want to bust that getting older means you stop grabbing for the latest tech gadget.  Not true!  And, for family caregivers – 34% of which are men – it is important to know that technology can help you keep your loved one connected and protected.

I witnessed firsthand in our pilot TV program, Handle with Care, airing on RLTV on June 9 (see our TV show page for more) that if technology is slightly adapted to address some of the issues of aging (arthritic hands, weakening eyesight, etc.) then seniors are ready to “plug” in (even wirelessly!) and get connected.  Check out our TV show featuring Caregiving Club technology expert, Robin Raskin, and the latest tech products from Telikin, Jitterbug, Great Call and HP.

(Find show times on rl.tv or you can also view the show from our site www.caregivingclub.com – look to the right sidebar –  starting June 10).

Here are some statistics to consider about going gray and grabbing the latest technology:

  • A recent NBC/Universal (NBCU) Research Study found that “Alpha Boomers” (ages 55-64) own more iPads and smartphones than any other demo.
  • Half of older Boomers (55% of those age 56-64) watch online videos (Pew Research).
  • Boomers and seniors are the fastest growing group on Facebook (Pew Research).
  • 62% of those over age 74 use a cell phone (Pew Research).

And, if you do not believe the statistics, then believe Tony our 85-year-old World War II veteran and Battle of the Bulge hero who was the star of our pilot TV show.  Upon learning how to surf the Internet, videochat and other things on a Telikin computer, Tony told me that after an adulthood of being a faithful daily New York Times reader, he has cancelled his subscription and now gets his daily news from CNN.com.  And, Debi – his daughter-in-law who has been his caregiver, has more peace of mind using videochat to check in with him and not just “hear” but “see” that he is doing great.

What and Where to Buy – And Free Stuff for Fathers!

The Aging Technology Alliance (AgeTek™), is a band of technology companies that are leading the development of new products and services to make aging-in-place possible. There are a lot of great Father’s Day ideas that you can find by checking out: AgeTek’s special featured suite of Father’s Day gift ideas www.AgeTek.org/FathersDay.

AgeTek is offering a special Father’s Day promotional giveaway to readers — a chance to win one of their featured items:

  • Jitterbug phone
  • Presto Computerless Email Machine
  • Amplicom Amplified Answering Machine
  • Clearsounds ShakeUp to WakeUp dual large display alarm clock
  • MedFolio Pill System
  • Dakim Brain Fitness package.

How to Enter:

1] Visit the AgeTek featured suite of Father’s Day Gifts at www.AgeTek.org/FathersDay

2] Click on ‘Contact Us’ in the upper right corner.

3] Enter your name and email address, and include which prize among the list above that you would like to receive. Winning entrants will be chosen randomly by AgeTek judges. (Email used for contact purposes only as it pertains to this contest. Winners will be notified via email and then requested to provide shipping address for the purpose of enabling AgeTek to send their prize).

All winner(s) will be contacted by June 17th by 11:59 p.m. (Eastern)

Good Luck, Happy Father’s Day and hurray for the male caregivers!

Let There Be Light

As Daylight Savings adds more “light” to our day, I want to shed more light on some great technology products that help seniors and their family caregivers with fall prevention and safety.

For many Older Americans, unlit walkways or badly lit garages and corridors can mean possible harmful falls and for the family members who care for them, this means more stress worrying about your loved one’s safety.

In fact, the CDC reported that more than 18,000 seniors die every year from a fall-related incident.  In addition, they reported in 2008 that more than 2.1 million seniors age 65+ were treated in ERs across the country with a non-fatal fall injury with more than 550,000 of those cases resulting in hospitalizations.

So here comes technology to the rescue.

Prevention, Protection, Peace of Mind

When it comes to keeping our older loved ones safe, it all comes down to what I call the three “Ps”:  Prevention, Protection and Peace of Mind.

Prevention and Protection: There are a lot of great products out there to keep seniors and Boomers safe.  One is a reflective vest created by Maxsa Innovations.  This is great for anyone who wants to take a walk after dark to help ensure you are well lit for passing cars and other traffic.  Also, if it is dark and you have fallen, the reflective vest is like a beacon to passing cars or others who can help you.

Maxsa also offers numerous products that light walkways even where no electricity exists and laser sensors for easy car parking.

New gadgets called “Personal Emergency Response Systems” are actually taking a cue from the world of fashion.  Whereas so many products are large, obtrusive and unattractive, Lifecomm, an innovative mobile health and wellness solutions company which is a joint venture between Hughes Telematics, Qualcomm and American Medical Alert Corporation, offers the kind of stylish watches, belt clips or lavalieres that fulfill our inner fashionistas.  And, they function as great safety devices with a one-button 9-1-1 call for help if your loved one has fallen.

There are also many new gps-type monitoring devices that allow those with dementia or Alzheimer’s who tend to wander to maintain their independence but give their family caregivers peace of mind so that instant tracking within a set perimeter can aid in safety. The Alzheimer’s Association offers a sophisticated system called ComfortZone for just this purpose.

Having the Conversation with Your Loved One About Technology That Keeps Them Safe

It’s not always easy to get Mom or Dad to admit that their eyesight, balance, or other mobility issues may be a risk factor for falling.  Many seniors feel they are being monitored and treated like a child if they agree to these “tracking” systems or wear a reflective vest like a highway construction worker.

To help caregivers make the case with their older loved ones about fall prevention and safety, you can find helpful information at the Fall Prevention Center for Excellence.  In addition the National Council on Aging (NCOA) has created local coalitions to help get the word out about fall prevention and safety. 

The best way for caregivers to have a conversation is to start with the fact that the Prevention and Protection will ultimately give you, the caregiver, and your older loved ones greater Peace of Mind and that is something we all could use.

Silverware – Where Aging and Technology Meet

I recently attended the Silver Summit Conference at the Consumer Electronics Show, where the focus was on new technology that helps seniors and their family caregivers.   This collision of a rapidly aging society with a fast moving technology world is called “silverware” and these products create more protections and better peace of mind for keeping your loved one safe at home.

In fact, a new study from the National Alliance for Caregiving and UnitedHealthcare polled caregivers on the usage of these new technologies.  The report indicated three areas caregivers felt technology could be the most helpful in reducing caregiver stress, saving them time, making their loved one feel safer and making them feel more effective as a caregiver:

  • Personal Health Tracking Electronic Record for keeping medical history information on their loved one
  • Caregiving Coordination System for shared electronic information on their loved one’s health care
  • Medication Support System to remind seniors to take their medications or to refill a prescription

The only obstacle was a perception among caregivers that these technologies would be expensive.

Home Sweet (Smart) Home

These “aging in place” technology gadgets and services include sophisticated pill dispensers, remote monitoring systems,  touch screen products for video chat,  medication reminders and brain games for mental acuity, networks for smart homes,  and robotics that perform a variety of communication and assistance functions.

A 2008 report by AARP cited that 80 percent of Baby Boomers expect to stay at home as long as possible as they grow older.  Yet, of the 85 percent of senior Americans who currently live at home, 31 percent of them are living alone.  All of this spells more anxiety for family caregivers who want to support their loved one’s desires to stay at home but also want to keep them safe and prevent accidents or mishaps.

The 2010 report by Berg Insight reported that the home monitoring and safety industry is currently $9.88 billion and growing nine percent every year.  According to other studies, 79 percent of these purchases will be made by a family caregiver.

My Silver Summit Favorites

Following is a rundown of the products I really liked from the Silver Summit.  For a comprehensive rundown of the latest trends and products in this arena of aging technology, you can also check out Laurie Orlov’s blog at Aging in Place Technology Watch.

Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS)

While home safety monitoring is not a new concept (just think “Nanny-cams” for child surveillance), many seniors are rightfully resistant to being “watched” as if they have reverted back to being children who cannot be left alone.

What will help caregivers in having the discussion of these products with their older loved one is to change the conversation from “privacy invasion” to “protection” and “prevention” for them and “peace of mind” for both caregivers and their loved ones.

The latest trend in the PERS category is mobile PERS.  One called Lifecomm is a joint venture between Qualcomm, Hughes Telematics and American Medical Alert.  Offered in a wristwatch-style, a gadget for your belt or a lavalier, what makes this device unique is the ability for your loved one to leave their home having a sense of independence while caregivers have peace of mind by accessing their location and other information connecting through a cellular service.  Beyond the functionality of Lifecomm was the stylish design – clearly a departure from some similar devices that are bulky and many seniors feel are a “fashion don’t.”

Although not at the Silver Summit, for those caregivers caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, there is Comfort Zone – truly remarkable tech advancement in ensuring your loved one is safe from wandering too far from home while maintaining a sense of independence.

Medication Adherence

Statistics show that more than half of all Americans do not take their prescriptions correctly making this issue the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S.  More than one million people are hospitalized and 125,000 people die from not adhering to their medication instructions and dosages.

While products like “Rex the talking pill bottle” have been on the market for a while, a sophisticated evolution is Tabsafe.  This product removes typical follow-up communication on “did you take your meds” with the caregiver’s ability to receive this information remotely and also change the dispensing of meds as instructed by a pharmacist or doctor.   The only drawback for many families is cost.  The device runs more than $1,000 with a monthly service fee.  Some Medicaid programs in certain states will reimburse and private insurers are evaluating reimbursement.  However, Tabsafe estimates this cost out weights the repeat hospitalizations needed from seniors not taking meds correctly.

Connectivity and Communication

While more and more seniors are getting online, 62 percent of those over 65 are still Internet-resistant.  For caregivers of these non-techy seniors, there are non-computer communication devices that bring peace of mind on important health care reminders but also give the older loved one the “social network” capability with other family and friends who have email, are on Twitter or Facebook.  All of this is done without the senior needing a computer, an Internet service provider or email.  Two products that work similarly are Celery (which uses a Lexmark printer technology) and Presto (which uses an HP printer technology).  The cost for Celery is around $90 for the device and $20 per month for the service and Presto is around $100 for the device and $12-$13 a month for the service.

One of the stand-outs at the show was Telikin which made its debut at the Silver Summit.  This touch screen device takes traditional computing to a sophisticated but simple-to-use level.  Whether it’s video chat, photo sharing, email communication or Internet cruising – the Telikin device will do everything your PC will – it’s just a lot easier for seniors, especially those who may have arthritis, to use a touch screen instead of a mouse.

Technology is going to help us live longer, in the way and in the place we desire.  And, while grandma’s silverware is typically passed down to younger generations, now “silverware” is being provided by family caregivers to keep their older loved ones safe and at home.