Archive for August, 2014

Person-Centred Care Home Search

As Ivy looked around her new room there was no way of knowing what was going on in her head. We had taken great care to make sure her new room looked the same as her old one. Photographs had been taken of her old room so it could be laid out the same and her ornaments arranged accordingly in her glass fronted cabinet. Her new room had been painted the same colour blue and a  new carpet had been laid, similar to her old one.

Ivy aged 85 had been living with dementia in a care home in West Sussex since her husband died five years ago. Her only son Paul had moved Ivy into the home before returning home to his family at the other side of the world, New Zealand.

Three years ago Ivy’s solicitor in West Sussex recommended Relative Matters to Paul and we have been monitoring his mothers health and well being ever since in addition to arranging for someone to take Ivy out for a drive and a meal out once a fortnight.

As time went on we became concerned about the quality of care Ivy was receiving and eventually, and in consultation with her family, decided that Ivy needed to move to another home. In the course of our assessment we identified that Ivy had a sister she hadn’t seen for years who still lived in Skegness where she had grown up. Thus the possibility of moving Ivy to a care home in Skegness presented itself and  our search began.iStock_000004762284Small

When a potentially suitable care home had been found we arranged to take Ivy for a weekend trial during which a tea visit was organised with her estranged sister. We made the 200-mile journey with Ivy, spent time assessing risks and most importantly, monitored her reaction to the new care environment and her sister. However, we needn’t have worried, Ivy was delighted to see  her sister and beloved ‘Skeggie’ again and it quickly became clear that we had got it right.

And so the move was arranged. We arranged for Ivy’s things to be taken to her new home the day before and her son and grandson flew over to help with the move. They arranged the room ready for Ivy’s arrival so it was ready when we arrived the following afternoon. By the time we left Ivy had reconnected with another resident she had made friends with on her trial visit.

As Ivy beamed up at us from her wheelchair we felt the warm glow of knowing we had made a difference to another person’s life.  We had reunited Ivy with her sister; in the area she held fond memories from her childhood. Job satisfaction doesn’t get much better than that!

Four Fantastic Ways Technology Can Support Your Elderly Relative

We often hear the term “golden years” used to refer to the time between retirement and when we leave this earth, yet many do not understand its meaning. For many, their final years can be a difficult period, fraught with illness, loneliness and general despair. It often falls into the hands of family members to look after and assist their elderly relatives during this time, which can be quite difficult if you’ve never before had to help take care of a loved one. We live in an amazing world these days: the combination of medicine and technology can mean that life is not just extended, but enhanced. If you are helping a loved one and want to keep them happier at home, then continue reading to find out about four ways that technology for older people can help maintain their independence.

MedMinder

It is quite rare to get to the end of your life without ever needing to take some form of medication along the way. Unfortunately, the ageing of our brains can hamper our ability to remember to take our medicine, which will only accelerate the process of deterioration. The Tabtime Medminder offers a solution for this problem, and revolves around a combination of technology for the elderly and smart medicine. The device in question is a pill dispenser, which can ensure that your loved one takes his or her medicine when they need it. This inexpensive and portable solution offers the following:

  • Easy to use interface with no confusing technology for older family members
  • “Set it and forget it” programming: an alarm will alert the family member when it is time to take their medicine
  • Storage of up to one week’s worth of medicine at a time; can hold dozens of pills
  • Large LCD buttons and screen for configuring alarms – perfect for those with bad eyesight
  • Flashing lights and auditory responses will gently yet effectively remind the user when to take their medicine
  • Detachable daily pill blocs can be attached to the alarm keychain for on-the-go use

The MedMinder pill dispenser is available for around £20 on Amazon and through other retailers – a small price to pay for peace of mind for you, and better health for your loved ones.

GPS Watches

While not true for everyone, many older people resist technology due to a feeling of intimidation and a fear of the unknown. This can make it difficult to monitor or engage with the elderly in a remote fashion, but you want to be able to keep an eye on them no matter what. We all understand just how difficult this can be when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, so a passive solution is needed. Enter the concept of GPS watches, which are making big waves in the world of technology for the elderly. So how do they work?

GPS watches include a cellular responder that constantly tracks the location of the wearer. Anyone with a provided phone number or login from afar can pinpoint the exact location of the person at any time. This in turn will display the location on Google Maps or a similar mapping software, which can help you find the person in the event they have wandered off – or if they are currently at home.

Home Sensors

In the past few years, integrated home technology for the elderly has become increasingly common – especially for areas of the home where accidents are common (like the bathroom). A variety of home sensors are now available that can tell you a whole slew of things about what your elderly relative or friend is doing. Some of the possibilities include:

  • Whether the lights in the home have been left on or off
  • When the last time the front or back door was opened
  • If the person has entered the bathroom or bedroom
  • Home intercom systems that allow for instant help in the event an accident occurs
  • If appliances like the refrigerator or stove have been left open or on

Many people seek a new, optimized place for their loved ones to spend their retirement. If you are considering the purchase of a retirement home for your parent, grandparent or other relative, then asking about whether any smart home sensors are included or available is generally a good idea.

Phones for older people big-button-phone

Regardless of resistance to technology, one piece of technology for the elderly that most enjoy is a phone. Being able to chat with friends and family – as well as access emergency services if needed – shouldn’t be a hard sell. Many phones are not easy to use for older people, however, this has led to the development of many different phones being developed specifically for older people.

Some of the main features you can expect to find on a phone for older people include improved speakers for better hearing, large buttons that can be easily read and an emergency call button. A good example is the Big Button Memory Phone Not only does it come with extra large buttons to help them see numbers accurately, it also offers 8 picture customisable memory buttons so that loved ones can be reached easily.

New technology is coming on the market every day so if your elderly loved one is facing a challenge do get in touch and I will try my best to help.

10 Top Tips For Communicating With Someone Living With Dementia

Communicating with people living with dementia is one of the greatest challenges to relatives and carers alike so I hope these tips will help you.

All communication has a purpose and no word or action is meaningless. What sounds like nonsense or repetition of the same question or sentence is, to express a feeling, to show a need, to give information or to get a response. What appears to be an inappropriate response or action may be a form of communication and there can be different ways of interpreting their words or actions.

Communication is more complex than mere speech and difficulties usually begin when people with dementia struggle to find the right words. With my mother this sometimes turns into a guessing game with howls of laughter when I guess the wrong word and tears of frustration if we go on too long.

Things you can do: MC900433934-2

1. Slow down and present as calm, even if you don’t feel it!  People with dementia are unable to process information as quickly as we are.

2, Look into their eyes so they know you are talking to them.

3. Use open and relaxed body language (difficult in a stressful situation I know) and watch what their bodies are saying too.

4. Listen carefully and interpret the meaning behind what they are saying. What time is it? This might mean, I don’t know what I should be doing or I want to go home.  My mother often talks as if she is on an aircraft.  She probably means she wants to get far away from feeling confused, overwhelmed and forgetful.

5. Look for the meaning behind behaviour.  I find it helpful to replace the notion of ‘wandering’ with ‘wondering’ to find a solution. Wandering may have a purpose or the person might be responding to a hallucination.

6. Divert attention to another subject when the person keeps repeating the same questions.  As the long term memory is usually preserved for longer it may help to talk about something in the past.

7. Give reassurance.  I often find that by stroking Mum’s hand, or giving her a hug, the reassurance takes away the stress of her trying to communicate something that is clearly important to her.

8. Change the subject and go back to it later if the person becomes agitated.

9. End a visit calmly and positively.  Feelings will remain and visits can stimulate warm feelings and bring comfort to the person.  Afterwards your loved one may have forgotten your visit and who you are, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

10. Visual and spacial problems

Mirrors –  People may not recognise themselves and think it is someone else they are looking at.

They can misjudge the edge of the table or bathroom furniture unless distinctive with contrasting colours.

Pouring liquids can be can be difficult or even dangerous.

People with dementia are confused by busy patterns

Make sure there is plenty of light. Older people living with dementia often poor eyesight to!

Important to remember…

  • Feelings remain after facts are forgotten
  • The ability to sing remains after speech goes
  • It is the moment of their experience, the ‘here and now’ that is important to people living with dementia