Introducing Seniors to New Technology

The healthcare industry is quick to encourage adaptive technologies and assistive devices to help seniors live safely and more independently. With some of these tools and services, it’s amazing to see how a single technology can help empower seniors aging in place. For example, a loved one may have trouble remembering what pills to take each day, so you get them an electronic medication reminder. Or, you might worry about them falling, so you have home monitoring devices installed. Whether a senior has mobility challenges, difficulty communicating, symptoms of dementia, or they simply need a watchful eye, there is likely a technology or device to fit their needs.

However, for a person of any age, learning and accepting something new can elicit mixed emotions. Anxiety, resistance, anticipation, confusion, stress and uncertainty are common feelings when trying to overcome a learning gap. Expecting some baby boomers and especially those from the silent generation to adopt new technologies and devices isn’t always an easy feat. These age groups aren’t as familiar with technology and electronics as younger generations. They tend to stick with what they know and may appear stubborn in their acceptance of new people, places or things.

So what happens when you show a loved one a helpful, new device or technology and you are met with resistance and frustration? Here are some tips to minimize the distress of introducing a new technology to your loved one…

  1. First and foremost, keep things simple. Stick to the motto of minimal technology for maximum quality of life. Once a senior feels overwhelmed with information the less accepting they’ll be as you explain how it works. Think carefully about how you first broach the subject. Once you do always lead with options and choices to give them control.
  2. Next, explain how the technologies or devices you’re proposing work. Keep it basic, but emphasize how these tools will help them stay not only safe, but connected and independent. It’s critical to make sure they know why they’re being asked to give something new a try.
  3. Understand their hesitancies, concerns and try to compromise. For example, a senior may be hesitant to allow cameras in their home for monitoring purposes because it seems invasive. Suggest video chatting as an alternative to check in and stay connected.
  4. If one thing is for sure, younger kids love technology and gadgets. Whether it’s a blood pressure monitor, electronic reminder device or a smartphone app, give the grandkids a shot at explaining it. Seniors love spending time with their grandchildren and this could be the best route to introduce a new technology.

Home health care services offered by certified medical professionals are a wise alternative if you feel your parent or loved one needs attention beyond what a device or technology can provide. There are always outside resources, like those available from AT Home Care, to assist in helping seniors remain independent and live a quality lifestyle. Contact us today to learn more about supporting a parent or loved one who is aging in place.

Helping Seniors Beat Seasonal Allergies

Spring is in the air! We’re finally coming out of a long, unusually cold winter and are getting our first taste of spring. The snow has melted and tree buds are starting to bloom, but the inevitable truth is that the beautiful greenery outside will soon release pollen into the atmosphere. Although warm, sunny seasons have physical and mental benefits, an early spring, or a spring that quickly turns to summer can signify an exceptionally bad allergy season is ahead.

Unfortunately, seasonal allergies don’t spare anyone. Infants, children, middle age adults and seniors are all equally susceptible to allergies. However, for seniors, allergies pose a higher risk than for any other age group. Asthma, COPD, high blood pressure and other chronic diseases may be further complicated by allergies. The challenge is that most of the medications that provide allergy relief contain an antihistamine. This can be a harsh combination with other medications used to treat chronic conditions. It’s for these reasons that seniors have a particularly hard time controlling seasonal allergies.

There are some things that caregivers and family members can do to help seniors be safe and more comfortable this upcoming allergy season. Here are a few tips…

Talk to your doctor before taking over-the-counter medication. Most allergy treatments contain antihistamines, and when paired with other medications can cause dizziness, drowsiness, high blood pressure and other adverse reactions. This can challenge a senior’s health, increase fall risk and the chance of other injuries.

Keep a watchful eye for common allergy symptoms like coughing, runny nose, itchy eyes, sniffling and sneezing. These are traditional signs that allergy season is upon us. For seniors in particular, it’s important to also pinpoint the specific allergy. This is why allergy testing is often recommended. Handling an allergy to a pet is much different than dealing with a pollen allergy.

Check pollen and mold levels before heading outdoors. There are many free services to check local counts. If levels are high and you intend on being outside, wear a hat and sunglasses to keep allergens out of your face and hair.

Make sure outdoor allergens stay outside. Remove clothing and shower if you’ve spent time outside, especially in areas with freshly cut lawns or heavy foliage. Keep windows and doors shut to keep pollen and other allergens from coming into the home. Clean bedding and other linens regularly.

The best way to fight allergies is by determining the culprit(s) and learning how to avoid them. If you’re a caregiver or loved one of a senior who is struggling with allergies, keep their doctor in the know. It’s easy to overlook allergies if the person has multiple health issues.

Skin Care & Health Tips for Seniors

As we age, our skin undergoes many changes. We’re not referring to fine lines and wrinkles, rather changes taking place that make the skin drier, thinner and more fragile. Seniors are more likely to have an increase in itchy, scaly, dry skin as they age as well. These variations can make skin more prone to injuries like bumps, bruises and scrapes that take a considerable amount of time to heal. While these skin changes are common with aging, they also put seniors at risk for skin infections and ulcerations which are very serious conditions. Those who have existing medical conditions like diabetes or kidney disease can experience an even greater degree of skin problems.

It is very important that seniors take care of their skin because they are more susceptible to skin infection and other skin diseases. Here are some tips to help seniors protect their skin, and to make them look and feel better about themselves…

  1. Many seniors suffer from dry skin. This oftentimes occurs on the lower arms and legs as well as the elbows. Taking warm, not hot, baths or showers and the daily use of a moisturizer should improve dryness. There are many ointments, creams and lotions on the market, test several to find what you like best. If your skin is still very dry and itchy, consult with a doctor.
  2. Be mindful of time spent outside. The sun is typically brightest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and some might say to avoid being outside during these times. However, it’s perfectly fine to go outside, just wear sunscreen and protective clothing. Apparel like a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that covers the arms and legs will block harmful rays.
  3. Regularly check your skin for changes and abnormalities. Keep an eye out for new moles, ones that have changed in shape, size or color, moles that bleed and other sores that do not heal. These may be warning signs of something more serious, and it’s recommended to consult with a doctor for further examination.
  4. Keep an eye out for bruising. Since there is a gradual loss of fat and connective tissue as we get older, the blood vessels are not supported as well and are more susceptible to injury. The skin is also thinner and more fragile so it’s prone to bruise easily. Seniors typically see an increase in bruises on their arms and legs. Some health conditions and medications can cause bruising, but if bruising occurs on areas always covered by clothing, check with a doctor.

Staying Active this Winter

The start of a new year usually includes goals of eating healthy and staying fit. While the weather doesn’t hinder the eating well portion of your goals, it may affect the ability to stay active. Winter weather can challenge anyone’s desire and discipline towards being physically fit, especially when it’s cold, dreary and unpleasant beyond your home’s comfortable (and heated!) walls.

Dropping temperatures don’t mean you have to abandon your health and fitness routine. Depending on your age and health, your doctor can recommend an appropriate activity level for you. Here are some ideas for staying active this winter…

Check out health clubs and community centers. Most gyms have group classes and instructed activities for people of varying ages and fitness levels. For seniors, your doctor should determine if gyms are a good fit for you. Many community centers offer fitness/wellness classes and activities. This is also a great outlet to remain social and engaged with others in your community.

Keep the same activities in your routine, but change up the location. If your go-to activity is a brisk walk with a friend or neighbor, head over to your local mall. Most malls open their doors early so walkers can get their exercise before shoppers arrive. This is a great alternative in a climate-controlled environment

If you decide to endure the cold temperatures for physical activity, it’s important to take a few precautions. Dress appropriately with the right types of layers and don’t forget to protect your extremities. The body loses 90% of its heat through the head, so make sure to wear a hat. Listen to your body for signals you may want to slow down or move inside.

Staying active doesn’t necessarily mean you have to break a sweat. For seniors in particular, staying active is really more about participating in activities and connecting to the community. Volunteering is a great way to stay active, learn a new skill or nurture a hobby or passion. Libraries, shelters and churches are resources to seek out volunteering opportunities.

Don’t lose sight of the simple truth—every activity counts towards your personal goals for staying active and healthy. Whether you’re doing laps at the mall, participating in a group fitness class or volunteering at a shelter, all of these are helpful to staying active and healthy. Have an open mind to try new things and get creative with friends and family.