Recently retirees in Colorado Springs, CO received a mailing allegedly from the State of Colorado talking about their recent application for Unemployment Benefits. Few of the recipients were even working at their age and none of them had applied for unemployment compensation. The letter went on to explain that if they had not applied to go online and fill out a form to alert the department of a possible fraud.
Tracking a senior’s blood pressure between medical appointments is a simple way to get an early read on issues that should not wait until your loved one can see a doctor again. Getting an accurate read is key to knowing if you have a problem or an insignificant blip. Having commonly available home blood pressure equipment allows for easy and frequent tracking.
All too often, older patients get released from the hospital and are fully eligible for help at home but refuse it. The reasons for this vary, but often it gets down to privacy or pride. Seniors see their homes as sanctums. They don’t want strangers invading their privacy. They think they’ve been getting along just fine and have unrealistic expectations of what recovering from a hospitalization will entail.
Given that 118,000,000 people in the US have a “smart speaker” the next part of this paragraph is probably be rendered unnecessary, but it is important to set up the conversation. Amazon Echo is a voice-activated and controlled smart speaker that uses a virtual assistant called Alexa, to perform a variety of tasks. These tasks can be simple, such as playing music or making lists, or more advanced, such as controlling your smart home’s thermostat or turning off your lights.
Caregiving can be an all-consuming, and occasionally a thankless task. Those for whom you care are inherently net takers, though not usually intentionally selfish. In the end, however, the caregiver gives more and gets less. In many cases that makes the caregiver attempt to provide more than the capacity he or she may have physically or emotionally.
When you consider the challenges of growing older, a variety of unhappy situations can come to mind. Loneliness as we have less exposure to family and friends is one. Less activity may lead to feeling less self-worth. A life of responsibility becoming one of “freedom” turns out not to be the panacea that it sounded like during the years that life felt hectic. Aging sometimes isn’t all that fun.
Pressure ulcers, more commonly called “bed sores”, represent a preventable and treatable issue for seniors, but caregivers must be vigilant to monitor for the potential of this malady. Further, these wounds can happen in places other than beds. They can appear and worsen very quickly so consistent and close inspections are important. Repositioning of those receiving care and consistent skin maintenance are critical.
Even as the vaccine is now available to an increasing number of seniors, logical protections are still in place that have kept seniors isolated over the past year. The psychological distress that has been a by-product of isolation due to necessary social distancing must be addressed proactively. This concern may have taken a backseat to the other, more obvious, threats that have been part of this crisis.
In a previous column we talked about the challenges of being a long-distance caregiver. The subject matter dealt with knowing as much as possible when the caregiver is not local.
One key component that should be added to the list of things a long-distance caregiver needs to have is a “Need to Know Kit”. This is a book that contains critical information about the cared-for individual which may be helpful in the case of an emergency. Caregivers can rely on a single source of information that the cared-for may not be able to produce or remember at a critical juncture.
Caregiving in-person can be physically exhausting. Caregiving long distance can be mentally tortuous.
When you are responsible for a loved one (or feel you should be) and you cannot see first-hand what the situation is, it can be very stressful. You may call and your Dad does not answer. You know he “should be there”, but he is not answering the phone. He could have fallen and injured himself – or he could be enjoying a cookout with the neighbors. Or he just forgot to plug in his cellphone. You can only allow yourself so many police wellness-checks before your welcome is worn out at the local constabulary.