Written by Nurse Susan
Are you a retired adult helping to care for an aging parent or sick spouse? You’re not alone. In fact, the Family Caregiver Alliance reports that of the over 40 million adults in the U.S. currently providing care for a family member, 34% are over the age of 65. Family caregivers take on responsibilities including providing transportation to appointments, refilling prescriptions, even administering medicine and helping with bathing, dressing, and toileting.
If you provide care for an aging parent or sick spouse, check out these helpful tools that may help bring you and your loved one peace of mind:
Medical Alert System
Have you considered installing a medical alert system in the home of the person for whom you care? Depending on their age and health condition, your loved one’s care needs can vary. If they have experienced any of the following in the past year, however, a medical alert system may be a helpful investment.
- Frequent dizziness
- Stumbling or falling (even if they didn’t injure themselves)
- Medicine side effects like low blood pressure or drowsiness
- Difficult walking or standing without assistance
- Hospitalization (or a trip to the E.R.)
- One or more chronic conditions (i.e. arthritis, diabetes, dementia)
Medical alert systems come in a variety of shapes and sizes – from free-standing machines that sit on a countertop or desk, to wearable pendants you take with you on the go. As a caregiver, you can always be ready to take quick action to help your loved one in the event of an emergency when they have access to a system that signals for help at the press of a button.
Digital “Baby Monitor”
Technological innovation has made keeping an eye on your loved one easier than ever. Digital monitors which are traditionally used in nurseries to keep an eye (and ear) on infants can also be repurposed for your loved one. While on the pricier end, these devices allow you to set up a camera in your loved one’s room which streams a live video feed for you on your smartphone or other mobile device.
Some monitors even let you move the camera around and up and down as well as speak through the device to your loved one or play music. Check in on them when you are out running errands or right before bed to make sure they are sleeping.
This may not seem like a “tool” but you would be surprised all the resources and help you can find simply be connecting with other caregivers and organizations online. Private Facebook groups like Caregiver Collective and Caregiver Hub Support Group allow caregivers to share their stories, frustrations, and questions with each other in a judgment-free zone. And following groups like the National Council on Aging and the Family Caregiver Alliance on facebook and twitter keeps you up-to-date on resources, policy changes, and events which may benefit your loved one’s care. Getting on social media is free and with advanced privacy settings you can easily control who you engage with.
While you can take extra measures to prevent falls in your loved one’s home, the fact is if they are elderly, and especially if they have motor impairment like you find with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, they are at a high risk for experiencing a fall. Many falls lead to serious injury in older adults, including hospitalization and life-threatening bone fractures or head trauma. In the event of a fall, you want to do everything possible to mitigate the severity of their impact with the ground.
Fall mats provide a helpful solution here, adding padding to the floor of commonly used areas like by the couch in the living room or by the bed in the bedroom. In addition to cushioning the blow of a fall, some fall mats are also designed to alert caregivers when they pick up on an impact like a person falling.
Knowing your loved one is safe and well whether you are present with them or not will always help to ease up on the stress and anxiety a caregiver naturally experiences. Simple tools like digital video monitors and fall mats can go a long way in providing peace of mind and a happier overall care experience.