Senior Gift Ideas: 14 Tech & Gadget Experts Recommend the Best Gift Ideas for Seniors

Are you running out of gift ideas for your older loved ones? No need to fret. We here at Assisted Living Today pride ourselves on providing valuable information for seniors or those who need assisted living.

With that, we’ve interviewed a panel of technology and gadget experts who may be able to help. Technology or gadgets don’t necessarily have to be complicated for an older crowd. That’s why we chose the best experts who are happy to share their recommended gifts suitable to a senior. We asked them:

What’s the #1 gift you’d recommend for seniors?

Take a look at this comprehensive guide on tech senior-friendly gift ideas. See what our experts say below:

Meet Our Panel of Experts for Senior Products:


Ferdinand PoonFerdinand Poon

Ferdinand Poon is the Founder of earlSpeak and a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Moving to New York, he earned his CPA designation while working for Deloitte. In order to be closer to his family, he returned to his native Canada, became an attorney and clerked for the British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver.  Then in 2000, Ferd’s father passed away suddenly. He decided it was time to do something that was (and still is) deeply meaningful to him – working to Bridge the Digital Divide.  Thus, earlSpeak was born and since then Ferd and his staff have instructed thousands of older adults and computer novices as they took their first steps into the world wide web.

When it comes to the best tech gift ideas for seniors, my idea is to gift them…

An online lesson with one of our Technology Guides to help them make the most of their existing computer/Internet connection. Teaching a senior (especially a techno-phobic one) how to successfully integrate the hardware into their daily life.


David InnsDavid Inns

@GreatCallCEO

David Inns is the President and CEO of GreatCall, Inc., the leader in creating mobile health and safety solutions for active aging. Since the launch of the Jitterbug cell phone platform in 2006, GreatCall has been innovating health & safety services, including mobile personal emergency response, telehealth, caregiver tools, medication adherence and wellness coaching. GreatCall’s services are available on proprietary devices designed for simplicity as well as on iOS and Android platforms. David holds a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Western Ontario. He has an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and is also a licensed member of the Association of Professional Engineers.

The perfect gift for older adults this holiday season – especially if they are not comfortable with technology is…

The Touch3 smartphone.

The large screen and the easy-to-use interface are just two of the factors that help reduce the intimidation factor. Not only does the Touch3 keep older adults connected to friends and family, but with built-in health and safety apps, the device is able to connect them with the health resources that they need, when they need them. So it’s not just a smartphone with a convenient plan – it’s a health network in the palm of their hand.


Derek MikulskiDerek Mikulski

@ActivMotionBar

Derek Mikulski is a NASM and NPTI Certified Personal Trainer and the Inventor of ActivMotion Bar Disruptive Training™. He also is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the NSCA and holds a B.S. in health education and promotion from Central Michigan University. Curious and inventive his whole life, Derek has always followed the road less traveled. Derek started taking an interest in fitness at the age of 18 when, through self- education and hard work, he lost 80 pounds! Derek now looks to inspire and help as many people – of all ages -to lose weight and better their fitness with his engaging personality and new ActivMotion Bar Disruptive Training™.

The best tech gift idea I would recommend for seniors is…

The ActivMotion Bar.

ActivMotion Bar Disruptive Training™ improves your core strength, balance and flexibility in a fun and dynamic way. The workouts it provides help you stay functionally fit, mentally sharp, lean, toned and active leading to life-long longevity. Appropriate for any fitness level, this innovative fitness tool keeps you moving and ready for any activity. Multiple weight options to match your fitness level. Flexible workout programs that fit your lifestyle and schedule. Burn calories, build lean muscles and tone your entire body.


Ricky BuchananRicky Buchanan

@atmacjournal

Ricky Buchanan is the Founder and Writer for ATMac, a blog about using Apple products to empower users with any type of special needs, including seniors.

My top gift ideas, especially for seniors who have an iDevice, is…

A quality iPhone/iPad dock, such as Belkin’s Express Dock for iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch, which is a great investment.

Plugging a cable into an iPhone or iPad to charge it can become tricky or painful as bodies age. A good dock allows the user to just sit the device on it and it will charge automatically, with no need for fiddling with cables. Extra suggestion: Set the dock up beside the senior’s bed or favorite comfortable chair so they’ll see it and be reminded to charge their device!


Marco PelusoMarco Peluso

@getqardio
Marco Peluso is the Founder and CEO of Qardio Inc. Prior to founding Qardio, Marco’s career spanned fourteen years in London’s financial industry. He graduated from Bocconi University and by age 28, became a partner at a multi-billion dollar hedge fund. Marco left the finance industry to start Qardio after his father suffered a stroke that’s origin was difficult to determine due to a lack of continuous monitoring devices. Marco Peluso founded Qardio with the determination to improve heart centered healthcare by developing a line of revolutionary, personal monitoring devices.

Since the holiday season is known for a spike in heart attacks and heart related issues, the perfect gift for any loved one is…

QardioArm.

It’s a sleek, portable blood pressure monitor that makes the perfect gift for any loved one who suffers from high blood pressure or is tasked with monitoring it. QardioArm allows users to check their blood pressure anywhere, anytime, and works by wirelessly connecting to the user’s smartphone or tablet to sync information to the QardioApp, where concerned family members, friends or doctors can access results.


Greg EdsonGreg Edson

@brollytime

Greg Edson has always had a passion for coming up with ideas and acting on them so he created Brolly. From starting soda and candy businesses when he was 10 years old to running online marketing companies in his 20’s and 30’s, passion has continued to strengthen over time. Greg build the Brolly brand to reflect his passions and values; affinity for simple design, appreciation of quality-made products and a belief that you can make a difference in the lives of others.

For seniors, I think the perfect gift for this holiday season is…

The Brolly.

It features a unique finger hole grip that enables seniors’ thumbs to remain free for safely texting / e-mailing in the rain (something no other umbrella can claim). It’s the perfect umbrella for a tech savvy senior, as well as the everyday senior that is on the go and enjoys texting no matter how wet and windy it is outside. Additionally, the Brolly provides a secure and comfortable hold that is second to none. Because of its unique grip, it relieves pressure on seniors’ hands and is very useful for those that suffer from arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome.


Aaron_blockAaron Block

@thehandable

Aaron Block is an Inventor of mobile innovations and has had a long and diverse entrepreneurial history. At the age of 82, he is the Inventor of the HandAble Wearable Holder.

I believe the perfect gift for a senior who has an iDevice this year is…

The HandAble Wearable Holder

More and more seniors are using smartphones and tablets these days. Many seniors have health issues that affect hand strength and find difficulty in using their devices. HandAble gives a comfortable hold without the need to grip the device. it works with any size hand, and just about every device. HandAble is an accessory that easily attaches to cell phones and tablets to give a more comfortable hold, and to keep you from dropping them.


Seth BaileySeth Bailey

@iTOKdotNet

Seth Baily is the Chief Executive Officer, Founding Member and Co-Owner of iTOK and has more than 18 years of entrepreneurial and leadership experience. He has played an integral part in helping the company become one of the fastest-growing businesses in the Midwest. Prior to iTOK, Bailey served as Vice President of DirectPointe’s Consumer Division and as Vice President of National Services Group. Bailey graduated from Brigham Young University with a B.A. In Business Management. In 2009, he received the Utah Business 40 Under 40 award.

My recommendation on the perfect gift for a senior who is suspicious of technology is…

The RealPad.

The RealPad is aimed at older people who are still suspicious of using technology. The $189 touchscreen tablet computer is 7.85 and has a simplified Android operating system with big homescreen icons and easy video chatting options. The device even includes built-in tutorial videos and troubleshooting guide.


Leor GreblerLeor Grebler

 @TheUbi

Leor Grebler is a co-founder and CEO of Unified Computer Intelligence Corporation (UCIC), a company dedicated to The Internet of  Things (IoT) market space. UCIC’s initial IoT product offering is the Ubi – The Ubiquitous Computer – a voice activated computing device that offers instant access to information and control of home automation devices. Leor steers UCIC towards its goal of making interaction with technology more human and natural.

For seniors who find technology complicated, I would happily recommend...

Ubi.

Ubi is a hands-free device that connects through Wi-Fi, allows people of any age to seamlessly interact with technology without needing to lift a finger. Devices are just plain complicated today. I want to put a new device on your radar that makes managing all your devices through Ubi. You can send emails, text messages, and set reminders all with just your voice. Ask Ubi any question or play any music for free and it will return an answer to you. Some might consider it Siri for your home.


Ho YinHo Yin Cheung

Ho Yin and his team brought to life the iMagnet Mount which helps commuters use their phones safely while driving. Ho Yin struggled to find a car mount that allowed him and his family to easily mount their phones to a car easily without fiddling and any mechanical complexity. A great product for the elderly as it requires little strength and effort to mount a phone, but also small enough to maintain a wide view of the road.

For older adults who drive a lot, I believe the perfect gift for the holidays is…

iMagnet Mount.

iMagnet Mount is a great tech gift for a senior who drives so they can read GPS directions while driving. No more fiddling complex plastic machinery, or clamps to hold your phone, just effortlessly pop your phone onto the magnet pad and it grips your phone. The first magnetic car phone mount that fits any phone, from a small Blackberry to a large iPhone 6 Plus. Great as a gift for someone who commutes and can multitask safely while driving, or just needs a phone stand at work.



Wei Shin

Dr. Wei-Shin Lai

@SleepPhones

Wei-Shin Lai, a family doctor, is the Inventor and Chief Executive Officer of SleepPhones. She was inspired to design SleepPhones when she was on call for the emergency room. She had a hard time falling back to sleep after being awoken in the night by a phone call. With SleepPhones, she was able to relax her mind and drift back to sleep. She is the organizing and methodical mind behind SleepPhones.

The perfect holiday gift for a senior who has trouble sleeping is…

SleepPhones.

If seniors are having trouble sleeping, and are thinking about taking medications for better sleep, I generally advise against that as a doctor. One of the major safety issues facing seniors today is medication side effects. Sleep medications increase risk of falls, mental confusion, and drug to drug interactions. Instead, try listening to relaxing music that helps them sleep. Binaural beat technology is a sound technology that gently eases the brain to a more relaxed, state for example. Our SleepPhones Simple are designed specifically for seniors. Relaxing music with binaural beats is built in to our patented and ultra-comfortable headband headphones. With the touch of just one button, you can turn on the SleepPhone Simple to play your favorite sleep track and then automatically shut off when done.


Peter Chin

Peter Chin

@NEET_Products

Peter Chin is a Product Designer and his latest creation is the NEET Cable Keeper, which he describes as the world’s simplest cable management solution, offering a guarantee of no more tangles. Chin has been designing and creating products for over 20 years.  By understanding production and manufacturing, he specializes in providing the best or most efficient solutions.  He works with several Billion Dollar Corporations such as Met Life, Blizzard/ Activision, Bacardi, and Disney to name a few.  With several US and World patents, his passion is to create simple products that make people’s lives easier.

I think the perfect hassle-free gift for a senior is…

NEET Cable Keeper.

The NEET Cable Keeper is the perfect gift for seniors because it eliminates the tangle cable frustration for good and the full zipper makes it simple for anyone to use.


Colin AngleColin Angle

@iRobot

Colin Angle is Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of iRobot (Nasdaq: IRBT). Angle’s leadership has transformed the Massachusetts Institute of Technology spin-off into a global leader of practical robots. One of the world’s leading authorities on mobile robots, Angle is an industry pioneer with more than two decades of experience. Under his guidance, iRobot is at the forefront of the growing robot industry, delivering home and military robots that are making a difference.

A perfect gift to alleviate housework for a senior is…

Roomba Robot Vacuum.

iRobot was founded on the notion that robotics can provide practical solutions to real world problems that are impacting people around the globe. As people age, daily tasks become more challenging such as light housework, transportation and meal preparation. Robots like our Roomba robot vacuum help senior citizens maintain a clean and sanitary home with little or no involvement. We believe robots will continue to improve and extend the ability of our senior population, to age happily, live independently and connect with the outside world.


Colin AngleSteve Basta

Steve Basta is the CEO of AlterG Inc., a leadership role that he has served since 2011. Steve has led AlterG through the evolution from a premier sports rehab business to a leader in Medical Rehabilitation, establishing the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill and more recently the AlterG Bionic Leg as a core part of the rehab program at over 2000 medical rehabilitation facilities. Steve has led emerging biopharmaceutical and medical device companies for over 20 years in a range of healthcare fields. From 2002 through 2010, Steve served as CEO of BioForm Medical, Inc, leading the company through the successful commercialization of Radiesse, the #3 worldwide dermal filler, and the creation of a worldwide direct commercial aesthetics organization with operations in 16 countries.

A perfect gift for a senior who wants to stay fit is… 

AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill.

The AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill uses NASA-based technology and has been revolutionary in allowing seniors to get back on the feet and work on their fitness. Mobility problems, injuries, assisted walking dependency; none of these are an issue with the AlterG, which helps people to walk and run safely and comfortably. Found in many senior communities and physical therapy clinics, the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill is extremely affordable and accessible, at only $25 per 30 minute session or just $50 for 3 sessions. Get your independence and fitness back with the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill today.

Functional Kitchens to Facilitate Fuller Living

Wouldn’t it be great if our increased age had no effect on the ease of living and performing simple tasks? In other words, coping with getting older is enough to handle without the added stresses of having to adapt to physical changes and limitations at the same time.0_9211116156.jpg

The truth is that although things become more difficult for us, there are ways to make them easier and ease the transition of aging. After all, the goal is to live life to the fullest, no matter how old you are or your physical condition, right?

Here are a few of the simple ways you can tailor your kitchen – or some things to look for when selecting an assisted living facility – that are not only senior-friendly, but that can also facilitate functioning at full capacity even if you have a physical disability or other limitations.

Handi-Capable Kitchen Cabinets

This wheelchair-accessible cooking station is just one of the ways you can tailor a kitchen to suit your needs when you or a loved one living in your home uses a wheelchair.

Other kitchen cabinet re-vamps include:

  • Raising the toe kicks from the standard 4″ up to 6″-8″ to allow better wheelchair accessibility; and
  • Installing pull-out drawers in the cabinets and slide-out inserts behind the doors give easier access to items located in the back without having to reach in or empty the entire cabinet each time you need something.

In fact, cabinets that consist of open shelving can eliminate the need for doors entirely. This is an especially handy feature if there are issues with pulling doors open (due to muscular difficulties or issues like arthritis) or maneuvering a wheelchair around a space that accommodates the wheels but not the wheels plus space for swinging open kitchen cabinet doors.

Do-able Doors and Drawers

And speaking of pulling open doors (and drawers), there are styles of handles that are easier than others, and a single type can address all sorts of issues.

  • For cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom: “pulls” that are long and slender or even door-knocker-style rings are a better option than tiny (albeit attractive) little knobs that are difficult to grasp.

*A trick with either type of these cabinet pulls is to attach a length of rope or thick cording and tie knots on both ends – now there is more surface area to grab as well as additional leverage provided by pulling on a rope.

  • For interior and exterior doors: handle-style doorknobs or lever-shaped dummy pulls (that you need not manipulate up or down) are preferable to round knobs that must be twisted or latches that require little bits and pieces fitting together in order to lock/unlock the door.

Other Kitchen Guidelines and Good Ideas

In terms of ADA-compliance and otherwise overall good ideas to make living easier, consider the following:

  • Dishwashers: The maximum high forward reach is 48″ and maximum low forward reach is 15″ for controls and operating mechanisms.
  • Top-Freezer Refrigerators: Controls must be below 54″ and be operable with one hand without requiring twisting, pinching or grasping. 100% of the fresh food space, as well as 50% of the freezer space must be below 54″.
  • Side-by-Side Refrigerators: These must be fully-operable with one hand and allow parallel approach by a person in a wheelchair with maximum high side reach of 54″.
  • Range: Same reach requirements as the dishwashers for controls but they may not be located in a place that requires reaching across burners to access them.
  • Cooktops: If they have spaces underneath to allow for wheelchairs, they must be insulated or otherwise covered to prevent burns, abrasions or electrical shock on the exposed surfaces.
  • Make sure blankets and other comforts and necessities (toilet paper, paper towels, soap, toiletries, etc.) are placed on sturdy shelves that do not require a person to extend their reach all the way to the back or lift their arms over their heads.
  • Soft-close and self-closing doors and drawers on kitchen cabinets and in bathrooms are a nice touch that will prevent injured fingers and will minimize the startling effect that slamming doors can have.

What other areas in the kitchen can you think of that could be more geared toward the sensational senior-plus crowd?

Chris Long has been working at Home Depot since 2000. Chris is a store associate in the Chicago suburbs, and also writes on kitchen design ideas for the Home Depot website. He provides advice to Home Depot customers on cabinets, islands, and other kitchen fixtures.

Exercise for the Elderly: Good for the Body, Good for the Soul

As we age, few things become more apparent than how much slower we move or more forgetful we are than we were 20 years ago.  Unless, of course, you’re Demi Moore and your body is literally incapable of aging past the age of 21.  If you are fortunate enough to have no genetic predispositions to disease or chronic health conditions, you have my congratulations. (Just don’t gloat to the rest of us, okay?)

Let’s face it: We’re not going to be in the same physical condition at 75 as we are at 45. People are living longer thanks to advances in medications, treatments and technology, but that’s also leading to an increase in health problems. The number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, for instance, is growing at a rapid pace—and a big reason for that is a longer life expectancy.

While genetic factors play a significant role in how we age, there are some key proactive approaches that can help our bodies and minds age gracefully. Exercise is one of the most important influential lifestyle factors that we can control, and it boosts the health of not only our bodies, but our minds as well.

Exercise is Key

Someone once asked me, “As you age, would you rather have your body give out or your mind go?”

I recall my answer vividly. I immediately blurted out, “I would rather my mind go so that I’m not aware of what’s going on with my body!”

Exercise for the mind and the body is imperative to the aging process. It increases our quality of life both now and in the future. Hoping to get out of it by saying it’s too late; you’re past middle age and any exercise you do now won’t do any good? Not so fast: Research proves that it’s never too late to start.

Why is Muscle Mass So Important?

Inevitably, muscle mass deteriorates as we age. According to MedicineNet.com, we lose three to five percent of our muscle density per decade, beginning in the fourth decade of life. It continues to decline one to two percent every year after the age of 50. Muscle is vital to keeping bodies strong and balanced.  Muscle mass reduces the risks from major injuries, such as a hip fracture and also aids in mobility.

Muscles can–and do–react to low-intensity activities such as walking, dancing and gardening as well as light weight lifting.  These activities reduce the deterioration of muscle mass and aid in rebuilding muscle mass that has already been lost. Exercising can also reduce the risk of broken bones, which can become increasingly common with age. Women, for instance, may be affected by osteoporosis after menopause which leads to easily fractured bones; exercise can help improve bone health and reduce the risk of fractures.

Does Exercise Help Cognitive Function?

Brain tissue density also deteriorates as we age. A substantial decline in brain tissue occurs after age 55 and involves the tissue responsible for thinking and memory. The decline in brain tissue has also been linked to cardiovascular health or fitness.

Brain neurons are the cells responsible for thought, movement and basic bodily functions, and they’re also involved in memory. So far research has shown that these neurons actually increase in number after just a few days or weeks of regular activity. Studies indicate that the fittest individuals have higher scores on tasks like coordination, scheduling, planning and memory, according to article on Senior Exercise on MedicineNet.com. Simply put, the more physically fit you are, the more brain tissue you may have.

What Type of Exercise Should I Do?

The American Heart Association regularly publishes guidelines for the recommended amount and frequency of physical activity in older adults. Here are some of the current recommendations:

  • Aerobic exercise which includes walking, jogging, dancing, biking and swimming. To promote and maintain health, older adults need moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes, five days each week, or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity for a minimum of 20 minutes three days each week.
  • Resistance exercise which includes weight lifting and calisthenics. To promote and maintain health and physical independence, older adults will benefit from activities that maintain or increase muscular strength and endurance. This can include brisk walks, water aerobics or similar activities at least two days per week.
  • Flexibility exercises, such as Pilates. To maintain the flexibility necessary for regular physical activity and daily life, older adults should perform activities that maintain or increase flexibility at least two days each week for at least 10 minutes per session.
  • Balance exercises to reduce risk of injury from falls.  Older adults with a substantial risk of falls, such as those with frequent falls or mobility problems, should perform exercises that maintain or improve balance. One simple activity is to use the back of a chair to balance your body, then balancing on one leg at a time without using the chair for support. Or do some dynamic walking in your living room; simply walk in a straight line while slowly turning your head from right to left simultaneously.

Exercise is tremendously beneficial for both the body and mind, and it’s never too late to start. All it takes are some simple exercises and workouts a few times each week to start building muscle mass, slim down your frame, improve your balance and even boost your brain function. Don’t like to exercise? Find yourself an exercise buddy so you can motivate each other. It only takes 21 days to form a new habit, and you may be surprised by how much you actually enjoy it.

Image by johnnyberg on Stock.xchng

 

Home Help for the Elderly: Is it Right for Your Loved One?

Many older adults desire to stay in their homes as long as possible, avoiding placement into an assisted living or senior living setting. This can be a viable option as long as an elderly parent or loved on has adequate help in the home as additional care and support becomes necessary.  It is important however, to research the range of options available to maintain this desired lifestyle. There are different levels and types of care which can be offered in the home depending on your loved one’s needs.

Make Decisions Early

All too often, families don’t have discussions or make these decisions until  a catastrophic event occurs and it becomes absolutely necessary. Other family members (in cooperation with physicians and other healthcare providers) are then faced with determining whether arrangements can be made for their loved one to remain in her home or whether an alternative living arrangement, such as nursing home placement, will be necessary.

Home care can be more affordable than residential senior living settings, depending on how much care your loved one requires. But home help providers can’t provide more complex services, and non-medical in-home care is not covered by Medicare or Medicaid in most cases.

Evaluating Your Options

There are a few questions you should ask yourself if you’re considering hiring at-home care for an aging loved one. These questions will help guide you in making the right decisions for your family.

  • What support do you have available? Do you have family, friends or neighbors, and how willing are they to become involved? Are there people in your life who can and will step in when needed to help with the lighter aspects, such as house cleaning, errand running, or providing a respite for the caregiver?
  • Do you have the financial ability to pay for care? Obtaining help now or in the future is something you should budget for. Also, look into what the financial obligations are when using a home health or private agency so you can create a financial plan in advance. Call your local office of aging and inquire about what services they provide and about income guidelines.
  • What are your loved ones medical needs? Does your elderly loved one have chronic medical conditions that will inevitably worsen over time? This is specific area of concern when evaluating your options. Consider mobility and health concerns,  possible future complications and how you might handle them.

Finding the Right Home Care Services

Once you have determined your needs, it’s time to evaluate what services your loved one will require to help maintain her independence. It’s time to look for outside providers. Ask among your network of friends and family to find out what local services might be available. Sometimes the best referrals come from your personal network.

Older adult resources such as the Area Agencies on Aging, eldercare specialists such as geriatric care managers, and senior centers can also be great places to start. When it comes to home health care, your physician will also be able to help with the referral process and may have recommendations or advice.  . Insurance providers will sometimes cover a portion of the costs associated with homecare services, if the care is necessary due to a medical condition.

Full-Service Agencies  vs. Independent Providers

There are two main types of in home care available to seniors: Full-service agencies and independent providers.

  • Full Service agencies typically range from companion services to complete nursing services. They can be more expensive but the trade-off is their caregivers have often been carefully screened with extensive background checks. This provides a little peace of mind and helps you feel comfortable with the caregiver in your home. Most states require these caregivers to be certified according to specific state standards, such as taking an examination to become a CNA.  And if a caregiver is unable to work due to illness or emergency, a replacement is typically sent to the home when using the full-service option.
  • Independent Providers are often less expensive.  However, you’ll want to do the legwork to carefully screen your employee. It’s also a good idea to check backgrounds and verify identities. The other downside is not having a readily available replacement should your employee is unable to work on any given day.

Home care can be a viable option for helping your loved one remain independent and in her own home. It’s not right for everyone, however; some seniors prefer the socialization and activities available in senior living settings, and not all families can afford the costs associated with in-home care. Finally, your loved one’s needs may eventually exceed what the agency is able to provide, making a move to a residential senior care facility necessary.

Image via Geograph.org.uk and is licensed under the Creative Commons license.

Legal Services for the Elderly: Where and When to Start

Older adults will eventually encounter age-specific issues which can require legal services. But at what point should you seek legal advice, and for which situations? Is it to make end-of-life decisions or for income-related advice and support? Perhaps it is due to hardships related to consumer-related problems because unfortunately, many seniors fall prey to scams such as fraud, identity theft and other crimes. Seniors are faced with important and often vital end-of-life decisions that require the expertise of a professional.

When is it time?

Older people occasionally, sometimes more often, have to rely on others for things related to their daily activities. This can make the elderly more susceptible to things such as elder abuse, which can be in the form of physical abuse, neglect, or even telephone scams designed to take advantage of vulnerable older adults. Fortunately, there are laws that protect the elderly from such abuse, and if you or a loved one ends up in a situation like this, it’s time to call a lawyer.

Maybe its time to think about end-of-life arrangements such as an advanced directive, a living will, power of attorney, funeral planning, or estate planning. Whether it’s a living will, which specifies what healthcare-related actions you want taken if you’re unable to make decisions due to  temporary or permanent incapacitation, or whether you want to plan for the future financially, an attorney who specializes in elder law should be contacted.

Living wills and advance planning for the elderly

It’s wise to protect your property and assets by having a will even if you don’t have a large estate or a lot of money. The main reason is to ensure that your property and valuables go to the person or persons that you choose. If a will has not been drafted, the property can be distributed according to their state’s laws.

Preplanning for a funeral can take a huge burden off of family members; it offers emotional and financial security for seniors and their loved ones. Since 2000, The National Funeral Directors Association now follow a Bill of Rights for funeral contracts, which serves as a resource to understand what to expect from preplanning your funeral. However, before signing any funeral arrangement contracts it is important to have a legal professional look over the documents.

Where do I Look for Legal Advice?

Where are the experts that can help a senior with end-of life-concerns? In the early 2000’s the specialty of Elder Law surfaced, which is devoted to the issues that seniors face. Elder law encompasses all aspects of planning for aging, illness and incapacity such as:

  • Health and personal care planning, which includes powers of attorney and living wills, lifetime planning and family issues.
  • Fiduciary (financial) representation, financial planning, housing opportunities and financing, income, estate, and gift tax matters.
  • Planning for a well spouse when the other spouse requires long term care, asset protection, public benefits such as Medicaid and insurance, and Veterans’ benefits.
  • Capacity, guardianship and guardianship avoidance.
  • Resident rights in long-term care facilities and nursing home claims.
  • Employment and retirement matters, age or disability discrimination and grandparents’ rights.
  • Will and trust planning, planning for minor or adult special needs children.

There are a number of situations in which you may find yourself in need of an elder law attorney. In general, however, the sooner the better is the rule when it comes to making plans for the future. It’s wise to sit down with an attorney even in mid-life or sooner to discuss things such as advance directives and wills in case of unforeseen events. The better prepared you are now, the more you can enjoy your golden years knowing all your end-of-life decisions will be carried out.

Image by otiep on Stock.xchng

Role Reversal: Cohabitating with an Elderly Parent

As the population continues to age, few things become more apparent than seniors’ desire for independence coupled with wanting to stay in their own homes. It’s a comfort thing: Most people want to grow old in their home, surrounded by their personal belongings and memories. Not to mention, the exorbitant costs associated with care outside of the home either in a long-term setting or assisted living facilities seems far out of reach for many of today’s families.

Nowadays, there are more and more adult children who end up cohabitating with their aging parents, whether that means the child returns home to get back on his feet or an elderly parent moves in with a child’s family to downsize or when it becomes unsafe for them to live alone. In the last 15 years, the number of seniors living with an adult child has skyrocketed, thanks in part to the high costs associated with getting outside help.

Living with elderly parents
Families provide the bulk of long-term care

It’s estimated that over 10 million adults over the age of 50 are responsible for the care of an aging parent. That’s about one in five Americans taking over the responsibility of a parent either in their home or paying for their care, according to the most recent statistics from the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA).

What’s more, Focus on the Family reports that families–not institutions–are providing 80 percent of long term care, meaning there are a lot of family caregivers out there providing the bulk of caregiving services for today’s elderly population. . As baby boomers are living longer and having healthier lives, any care that is needed for the aging parents typically becomes the children’s responsibility.

As people grow older, there are many ailments and conditions which may lead to the need for outside help. Cohabitating with aging parents can take the place of some, if not much, of the need for this assistance. A cohabitating arrangement can prove beneficial and rewarding, but it could also create plenty of complications.

Talk out the details first

Most children have good intentions when they decide living with an elderly parent is the best option. However, these situations can go south very rapidly if all the details weren’t given much thought before the decision was made.

Addressing every topic beforehand, such as finances, and evaluating how to establish unity among everyone involved can ease much of the tension associated with living with aging parents. Here are a few topics that should be considered prior to cohabitating with mom or dad:

  • Who will pay the bills? Will your parent be expected to contribute financially?
  • Are there young children involved, and how can they be prepared for this change? Be sure to discuss the situation and explain, even to very young children, why Grandma or Grandpa is moving in and what it means for them.
  • Do you need ground rules for young children? The roles can get mixed when multiple generations live under the same roof; be upfront about disciplinary roles and expectations to avoid hurtful confrontations.
  • What medical needs does your elderly parent have? Who will be responsible for taking care of any care needs, appointments and supplies?
  • Is it safe for your aging parent to be alone during the day? If not, who will be caring for her while your family is away? Look into options such as adult day care if needed.

Living with mom or dad

Share responsibilities with siblings

If your aging loved one requires a great deal of care, enlisting other siblings to help can be a good idea. If you have adult siblings who live close enough to help with daily activities or transportation to doctor appointments, it can alleviate the amount of stress placed on the child with whom the aging parent resides.

Make plans in advance and discuss these options with your elderly parent and any siblings who will be participating in care. Again, advance planning goes a long way in avoiding unpleasant disputes down the road.

Check into community resources

Researching all the options available in your community, such as respite care can also help alleviate some of the burden. It’s important for families entering into a cohabitating arrangement with an elderly loved one to know all their options and have ample support. Ancillary resources that can help include:

Living with elderly parents can and does work, provided there is sufficient space, privacy and boundaries for everyone involved. Mutual respect and a place to go when one has had enough family time are also crucial to a successful cohabitating arrangement.  Cooperation, advance planning and flexibility are all critical to the family’s happiness.

Images via celesteh.com and  InAweofGod via Flickr

Top 20 College Courses for Senior Care

top senior care collegesIn universities and colleges across the country, courses and degree programs in gerontology, the study of the social, psychological and biological aspects of aging, are on the rise. By 2030, the Administration in Aging predicts there will be more than 72 million senior citizens in the United States–up from 39 million in 2009. Demand for senior care professionals is already strong, and as baby boomers grow older, the need for qualified caregivers, policy makers, researchers and providers of elder care services will only grow.

Opportunities for new and returning students to study gerontology are abounding. Interdisciplinary in nature, courses range from nutrition to psychology, administration and policy to financial longevity. Listed in no particular order, here are college classes in gerontology, social work, or public health majors, Master’s and Ph.D. programs.

1. Gerontology 101 — San Diego State University

The San Diego State University’s School of Social Work offers an array of courses for the Major in Gerontology, but all students must  begin with Gerontology 101. Overall, the school’s goal is to provide comprehensive coursework to educate students on the impact of society’s changing demographics on every aspect of their social and work lives.

2. Fieldwork in Gerontology — Ithaca College

The aging studies program at Ithaca College’s Gerontology Institute enjoys both a national and international reputation of excellence. Partnering with a nearby adult residential facility, the program provides students a unique learning experience. Courses ranging from Fieldwork in Gerontology to The Long-Term Care system give students a well-rounded look at the hot topics in the field of gerontology and senior care today.

3. Functional Performance Assessment & Programming for Older Adults — California State University, Fullerton

Students enrolled in the Gerokinesiology advising track at California State University – Fullerton learn both background knowledge and skills necessary to develop and teach fitness, mobility and mobility enhancement classes, as well as personal training and rehabilitation programs for older adults. Students at California State have a unique opportunity to practice their skills through internships with the school’s Center for Successful Aging.

4. Physical and Psychosocial Aspects of Disability — University of North Texas

Rehabilitation Studies within the College of Public Affairs and Community Service at the University of North Texas prepares students for a range of possible careers, including aging programs, independent living facilities, community living centers and other human service agencies. For the 17th straight year, the University of North Texas was named  one of America’s Best 100 College Buys by Institutional Research & Evaluation, Inc., designating the school as an affordable place to earn a top-notch education.

5. Fundamentals of Epidemiology — University of Georgia

The University of Georgia’s Institute of Gerontology is the school’s hub for coordinating and conducting education, research and outreach services associated with the study of aging and older adults. Long life is a direct result of public health, says the department, and Fundamentals of Epidemiology is the cornerstone class of public health studies.

6. Physiology of Aging — University of California

A requirement for any Gerontology major at the University of California, Physiology of Aging is essential for students wanting to study, manage and learn how to heal the body across the lifespan. The UC Davis School is the oldest and largest school of Gerontology in the world, offering the most comprehensive selection of Gerontology degree programs, from undergraduate to specialized Master and Ph.D. programs.

7. Social Services for the Aging — Brigham Young University

Social Services for the Aging is an elective course in the Masters of Social Work curriculum at Brigham Young University. The BYU Master of Social Work is one of the strongest Clinical Social Work programs in the nation, especially preparing students for research and Ph.D. programs.

8. Lifespan Development — Loyola University of Maryland/Johns Hopkins

Lifespan Development is one course included in the Loyola/Johns Hopkins 5-Year Dual Degree Nursing program. A unique program, the dual degree allows students at Loyola to pursue a career in nursing within the context of a liberal arts education, merging clinical skills earned at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing with an education in sociology from Loyola University Maryland.

9. Psychology of Aging — Virginia Commonwealth University

The Virginia Commonwealth University‘s psychogeriatrics track within their Department of Gerontology is unique in the field of geriatrics. Psychology of Aging teaches research methods related to optimal aging, psychological adjustment in late life, development of personality, cognitive function and emotional aspects of the aging process.

10. Ethics — Wayne State University

Ranked number one by the Gourman Report since 1995, the Bachelor of Social Work degree program at Michigan’s Wayne State University within the school’s Institute of Gerontology prepares students both with a strong curriculum and field work. Ethics is one required course for the degree, which can lead students on a specialized Gerontology Certificate.

11. Aging Policy & Services — Georgia State University

Within the Gerontology Institute at the Georgia State University are a host of classes for undergraduates, Master’s and certificate programs. Aging Policy & Services focuses on an important aspect of gerontology study, which is policy making. Over the past 30 years, more than 500 students have graduated from the Georgia State University’s Gerontology Institute, making differences in this changing society.

12. Family Practice, Community-based Geriatrics — University of Kansas

The University of Kansas’ Graduate Program in Gerontology emphasizes social and behavioral gerontology. Interdisciplinary in nature, faculty include members of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Schools of Architecture and Urban Design, Allied Health, Education, Engineering, Fine Arts, Law, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy and Social Welfare. Community-based geriatric courses are affiliated with KU’s Landon Center of Aging.

13. Adult Development in Aging — University of Nevada – Las Vegas

The Gerontology Minor program at the University of Nevada – Las Vegas is about as diverse as any, ranked by the 2013 U.S. News and World Report as the eighth most diverse campus in the nation. Their coursework for a minor in gerontology ranges from counseling to nutrition to Adult Development in Aging, which explores the physical and psychophysiologic developmental patterns in adulthood and normal aging.

14. Introduction to Pastoral Care and Counseling — Boston College

The Boston College University Institute on Aging takes a holistic approach to the challenges and opportunities of aging in the 21st Century. Their theology and ministry coursework addresses issues like family counseling, violence, crisis ministry, depression, substance abuse and boundaries in ministry.

15. Death, Loss and Grief — St. Francis College

An often uncomfortable and difficult topic, death and all it brings is a necessary component of an education in gerontology. The Health Promotion and Sciences major at St. Francis College in New York City prepares students for either graduate work or careers in local, state and national community health agencies, city and state government agencies, hospitals, schools and assisted living facilities.

16. Family Caregiving and Dementias — Barton College

Barton College in Wilson, NC, offers a Bachelor of Science in Gerontology that affords students both in-classroom learning and hands-on fieldwork. In the gerontology program, students play a significant role in the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk and in the Caregiver Education Conference conducted by the Alzheimer’s North Carolina Inc., the Upper Coastal Plain Area Agency on Aging and Barton College.

17. Gender and Aging — Miami University

The Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Oxford,OH, emphasizes research and multidisciplinary education in gerontology. Researchers and educators provide technical assistance, service to the community, planners, providers, policy makers and other professionals, enabling the next generation of students to do the same.

18. Financing Longevity: Topics in Insurance — University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Offered at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a gerontology degree with concentration in Aging and Business requires that students learn about the financial issues of growing old, a topical issue in today’s world. Students explore personal, governmental and private-sector roles in financing longevity in the United States, discussing insurance, people’s choices and policy options within the Gerontology Masters Program.

19. Nutrition and the Elderly — Cedar Crest College

Cedar Crest College in Allentown, PA, offers a gerontology certificate program that partners up with a variety of majors, including nursing, psychology, pastoral care, social work, nutrition or business. Nutrition and the Elderly is one of six required courses for the certification.

20. Long-Term Care Administration — University of Nebraska, Omaha

Calling it an “education for the 21st century,” the Department of Gerontology at the University of Nebraska Omaha offers a wide range of options for students looking to specialize in the field. A graduate course, Long-Term Care Administration especially prepares students for the issue facing administrators today and in the future.

 


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Startling Statistics Concerning Suicide among Elderly Men

Studies have shown a startling trend in the increase of suicides among older adults, which has brought the subject of elderly mental health into the spotlight. Statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health show that suicide among older adults is more common than most realize and more disproportionate to suicides committed by any other age group.

Depression among elderly men may go unnoticed.

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Adults over the age of 65 represent only 12% of the people in the United States, but they represent 16 – 25 percent of all suicides that occur in this country. What is surprising is that four out of five suicides are committed by elderly men. The numbers increase drastically for white men over the age of 85 to 50 occurrences out of 100,000 men.

No Previous Warning

What is even more disturbing is the majority of elderly suicide victims gave no indication that they were considering suicide and had no outward signs of depression. Many had been seen by their doctors in the month and even days before their deaths. Even though practitioners are trained to recognize symptoms of depression, which can be crucial in preventing suicides, often there are no signs exhibited by their patients.

Concern for Elderly Men

While depression plays a large part in many of these cases, other elderly health issues can increase feelings of hopelessness and not having anything left to live for. Social isolation can increase these feelings also. This is the case for many elderly men who tend to become more socially isolated than women do. The risk increases for elderly widowers because their wives managed many of their social connections. Once their wives has passed, these social connections may be greatly reduced or totally cease.

Elderly men may also find themselves losing a sense of purpose because they were poorly prepared for retirement and now do not know what to do with themselves. This is especially true if they have never developed interests or hobbies outside of work. The added stress of being alone may become too much to bear and they feel they would be better off dead.

Risks and Signs to Watch For

As with so many elderly health concerns, if an older man finds himself facing the prospect of going through a major health crisis such as cancer alone, this can become overwhelming. This is one major risk in which to be aware. Returning home after a stay in the hospital can be a trying time for many and can increase the risk of suicide.

One signal that may suggest depression is taking hold of one’s life may be drastic weight loss. This is often because they have stopped eating as their will to live fades. They may also stop taking their medications and sleep more often. They may also appear very sad and say such things about being a burden on others, and how their family would be better off if they were gone. This is not a normal stage of aging; this is a sign that help is needed, and now.

What Can You Do?

The key to helping to prevent depression and suicide among the elderly is to help them remain socially active and involved in activities. These activities could be of any type whether joining a senior center or a book club. Getting the person involved in volunteering for their church or local school or museum will give them a sense of they are making a contribution and have a purpose.

If you suspect that an elderly person you know is exhibiting signs of depression, take steps to stop them from becoming a statistic. Help find mental health services geared toward the elderly for them immediately. If you feel that they are in immediate danger, contact your local hospital for an immediate referral.

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What are Residents’ Rights?

Promoting Awareness through Residents’ Rights Awareness Month in October 

Seniors living in assisted living facilities, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are entitled to the same rights as everyone else–those of dignity, choice and self-determination. The Federal 1987 Nursing Home Reform Law was enacted to ensure that facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid are promoting and protecting the rights of each of their residents. Each October, The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care promotes Residents’ Rights awareness.

What are Residents’ Rights?

Taking into consideration residents’ physical, mental and psychosocial well being, the reform law outlines rules governing each facility. Whether you are a resident, you work in an assisted living environment or you have a relative or friend in an assisted living facility, you should know the rights afforded to the elderly in an assisted living, long-term care, or other care facilities. They include:

The right to be fully informed, in your native language, of available services and charges for each service, the rules and regulations of the facility, advance plans of room changes or roommates, how to reach your State Ombudsman and state survey agency as well as the state survey reports and plans of correction for the community in which you live.

The right to complain, without fear of reprisal, if you have a grievance. You should see prompt efforts by the facility to resolve the problems, or be able to further your complaint to the ombudsman program or the state survey and certification agency.

The right to participate in your own care. Participation includes knowing how to access your medical record, what’s going on with your medical condition and what assessments, care-planning, treatments and possible discharge plans are. You’re also allowed to refuse medication, treatment, chemical or physical restraints.

The right to privacy and confidentiality, during treatment and care, regarding medical, personal and financial affairs, and to be allowed unrestricted, private communication with whomever you choose.

Rights during transfers and discharges to receive a 30-day notice of transfer and discharge, including the reason and new location. You have a right to appeal these actions if you don’t agree you should be transferred or discharged.

The right to dignity, respect and freedom. No resident should experience mental or physical abuse, corporal punishment, involuntary seclusion or physical or chemical restraints. Your dignity and self-determination belong to you, and laws against elderly abuse, like the 1987 Reform Law protect your most basic rights to safety.

The right to visits, whether from your physician, relatives, friends, organizations that provide social, legal or health services, or the state survey agency and ombudsman program. You may also refuse visitors.

The right to make independent choices. From what you wear to what doctor your choose to managing your financial affairs, just because you are in an assisted living facility does not mean your choices are stripped. The facility must accommodate reasonable needs and preferences.

How can you advocate for Residents’ Rights?

Elder abuse should never happen; a person’s health or well being should never decline as a result of a facility’s care. There are a number of agencies which monitor the rights of residents, including the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center, or, depending on the state, a citizen advocacy group.

What is the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care?

Originally the National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform (NCCNHR), the organization formed in 1975 as a result of public concern about less-than-acceptable care residents of nursing homes were receiving. Most of the original members of the NCCNHR had either witnessed or endured personal experiences with substandard conditions and took action. Today, the Consumer Voice is the leading national voice representing consumers of long-term care, providing tools and resources for residents, caregivers and advocates as well as advocacy related to federal and state regulatory and legislative policymaking. More than 200 member groups exist across the country, with an individual membership of over 2,000.

7 Tech Gadgets for Seniors

Maybe it’s getting a little more difficult to run the vacuum or uncork a bottle of your favorite wine, but every day, developers are working to make tasks easier, life safer and just a little more fun for seniors. Here are seven gadgets that can enable seniors to be independent and active for longer.

1. 5 Star Responder

 

Remember, as a kid, when we were told to use the buddy system? As older adults, we can’t always rely on a buddy to be nearby. The 5Star Responder is an electronic buddy, a small unit, like a cell phone, that clips on to your belt or pocket, a keychain, or backpack, and uses GPS technology to locate and connect you with a certified 5Star Agent at any time. With the push of a button, you’ll reach an agent who will identify and locate you, assess your situation, conference in a family member or friend, send help if necessary, connect you with a live, registered nurse or contact 9-1-1, in an emergency. With a 5-second hold of the button, you can also bypass the agent and connect directly with 9-1-1.

Other features include the ability to program personal details including emergency contacts, doctors and medical conditions. The service, available in 100 languages, is $14.99 a month with no contract or cancellation fee, and a one-time activation fee, discounted if you activate online. First month is free for Amazon customers.

2. Hands-Free Vacuum  

Some of the high-end vacuum cleaners these days are lightweight and deft, but still require you to push them. The iRobot is a smart, self-guided vacuum cleaner–no need to push! As it scoots around the house, the iRobot’s improved fine-filtration system traps dust, pollen, crumbs, pet hair and dirt, automatically adjusting from carpet to tile, linoleum and rugs. Armed with an anti-tangle technology, the unit will reverse when it encounters rug fringe or cords, and the built-in cliff sensors ensure that it won’t tumble down stairs or off other steep drop-offs. Return it to the Home Base dock when the job is done for a re-charge, or when the battery is low.

Smart is not an overstatement. The iRobot scans a room before getting started, taking in the dimensions, obstacles and dirty spots. The user can set up virtual walls if an area of the house is off limits. Then with just a quick push of a button, the self-navigated sweeper is on the job.

 

3. Automatic Pill Dispenser

There are many automatic pill dispensers on the market today, some as much as $800. But not all tech gadgets need to carry a high price tag to be effective. The Med-E-Lert Automatic Pill Dispenser comes in around $40 on Amazon.

Some of the main features of the Med-E-Lert Automatic Pill Dispenser include a large capacity of one week’s supply of pills up to four times a day, 28 compartments that hold up to 18 Aspirin-sized pills and a long duration buzzer that persists until the pills are removed.

 

4. Large Print Keyboard

Featuring bright yellow keys and black letters, a large-print keyboard is ideal for people with visual impairment or low vision, or for folks working in low-light situations. The Keys U See Large Print Keyboard offers the largest typeface available on a full-sized keyboard, making computer use easier. Plus, it maintains the standard 104-key layout, so there’s no need to re-learn how to type, and hot keys jump you directly to search commands, the Internet or email functions.

 

5. Digital Handheld Emergency Alert Radio

The state of today’s world can make anyone anxious, and feeling cut-off from emergency news and alerts heightens that sense of anxiety. A digital handheld emergency alert radio is a small, useful tool to include in an emergency preparedness toolkit. Made by Oregon Scientific, the WR202 Digital Emergency Radio includes an alert function directly from the National Weather Service that issues Imminent Weather or Civil Emergency warnings in your area. A hand crank and solar panel provide alternate energy to keep the LED flashlight, siren and radio powered up. The handy unit also includes a USB-compatible cell phone charging port.

 

6. Electronic Corkscrew

Physical limitation shouldn’t keep you from enjoying a good glass of wine with a fine meal. An electric corkscrew makes uncorking a bottle quick and easy. Designed to fit all traditional wine bottles, the Oster Electronic Bottle Opener includes a foil cutter and a simple one-button operation to gradually remove the cork. The cordless corkscrew is lightweight and ergonomically designed to be comfortable to handle. It rests in a charging base when not in use and comes in three colors to jazz up your kitchen space.

 

7. Hands-Free Game Console

Difficulty holding onto a controller or manipulating buttons may take the fun out of gaming. With a hands-free system, seniors can join the action without having to work a small controller. The Kinect by Microsoft gets you up and moving, whether you’re playing a game of golf, tennis or learning a new low-impact fitness routine in your living room. The system works off the Xbox platform, directly out of the box. No difficult programming or wiring necessary.