• SERVICES

    Preferred Living Solutions helps seniors and people with disabilities manage their current situation, plan for future needs and assist in making adjustments as needs evolve. more…

  • ABOUT US

    Preferred Living Solutions’ aging life care managers work closely with individuals and families to develop, implement and monitor personalized plans and solutions for health, home, transportation, and other life transitions.

  • TESTIMONIALS

 

Smart homes for smart seniors

November 25, 2017

Smart homes are one way to "work smarter, not harder".

Smart homes make aging in place a reality for seniors. Many seniors don’t desire or can’t afford retirement community options or round the clock home aides.  As an aging life/geriatric care manager I am excited about many of the new passive monitoring systems that may allow my clients to stay in their homes for awhile longer and perhaps for a lifetime.

Once a sci-fi movie and a far reach into the future, now it’s likely that some of your neighbors are creating smart homes. Consumers of all ages are making regular requests of technologies offered by Amazon and Google. “Google, turn off the lights”; “Alexa, what day is it?”; “Google, let’s play a game!” are a few of the simple requests to make daily life a little easier and possibly more fun.

Is your aging family member still independent but lives alone? Is someone you love and care for in an early to mid stage of dementia? Companies like TruSense offer solutions summed up by taglines like this one “Worry Less. Live More.”

In-home sensors are an upgrade of the wearable personal emergency response system (PERS), meaning that your loved one isn’t tethered to a bulky necklace or bracelet like the old “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” life alert technology. Home sensors quietly and constantly monitor signs of wellness and offer insights into changes in routine behavior. Human beings are creatures of habit. It is those habits that, bundled together, create a “day in the life”, or predictive trends in geek speak.

What are areas of concern that, if captured early on, may be addressed with safety measures put into place before a crisis occurs?

  • room transitions: how often is your loved one leaving her bedroom, going into the bathroom, or exiting the front door and is there a decline in activity level?
  • toileting frequency: yes, an uptick in the timing and number of potty visits might indicate an infection or another health concern.
  • out of range home temperature extremes, exterior door left open or water leaks may help an aging family know about the need for a home repair before it becomes an emergency.

While home sensors and passive monitoring might not be the right solution for everyone, the choice to age in place is now more informed and feasible. Cost-wise, sophisticated monitoring systems may still be less expensive than a move to a retirement community. And a family caregiver might feel a new sense of security that when she is not present she has real-time access to data about Mom’s day or night.

 

The value of working with Aging Life Care Professionals

September 12, 2017

Improving the quality of life for our elders and aging families is our passion and mission. This article, The Value of Working with Aging Life Care Professionals  from the Aging Life Care Association Florida chapter, summarizes their research conducted with their clients/families. It heartens us to receive valuable feedback like the information in this article.

Shower assistance for people living with dementia

May 08, 2017

Maya Angelou quoteSupport for activities of daily living (eating, bathing, toileting, dressing, ambulating) looks different for every caregiver-care partner engagement. The partnership is rarely a 50-50 interaction. As human beings we transact differently depending on relationships. Successful provision of care for someone living with dementia is the result of a caregiver leaving his/her “my way or the highway” mindset at the door.

What is one of the most challenging interactions caregivers and care partners face? “It’s time for a shower.” Let’s break it down.

  • It is embarrassing to strip naked in front of another person.
  • Being naked means feeling cold. Feeling cold is uncomfortable.
  • Water temperature is easily too cold or too hot.
  • Adults don’t need shower assistance. Adults with dementia still believe they should bathe in private.
  • Soap and water can make eyes hurt and sting.
  • Wet floors are slippery. Falls happen.

The best case scenario for the care recipient is that he/she is at home in familiar surroundings. The bathroom is small, cozy and easy to heat with soft towels, fragrant soap, non-slip bath mats, and lights that can be dimmed or brightened.

The worst case scenario – I saw it and experienced it firsthand last week with my client. We were in a memory care unit. My client’s bathroom does not have a bath or shower for safety reasons. To take a shower, think old school college dorm bathroom at the end of the hall. Think how overwhelming it must feel at age 80+ to be led from a familiar space to a door that an aide has to unlock. The room is sterile with a strange looking bathtub and a shower stall with no door or curtain. No bath mat, no fragrant soap, no fluffy brightly colored towels in sight. And an aide, someone you don’t recognize, tells you to get undressed. Where is your laundry hamper? Where is anything that looks familiar and inviting? Of course my client refused shower assistance.

No wonder our loved ones with dementia don’t want to shower. Actually I think they may but in their own time, in their own way, in their own space (in a home where they lived a long time ago), with Mom, not an aide, nearby.

Long-term care residential facilities and corporations, I challenge you. Up your game. Think outside the box. In the name of “shower assistance” make small but meaningful changes behind that locked “spa” door. And for heaven’s sake, stop calling that cold, impersonal room a spa. I was in that space last week. That definitely was not a spa. Allocate enough of an aide’s time that the shower won’t be rushed. Coach that aide to be respectful and patient and gentle. Use color, soft textures, fragrance, a gentle touch and a quiet voice. I want our elders, not senior living corporations, to win this battle.

Sibling rivalry, aging parents and running the emotional gauntlet

March 07, 2017

sibling rivalrySibling rivalry, also known as competition between sisters and brothers for a parent’s attention, may change over time. Unique relationships can strengthen or weaken on the road from childhood to adulthood.

Birth order can create lifelong labels that defy age, education, and experience. With that status often come a pre-defined set of roles. As Jane Mersky Leder wrote: “our siblings push buttons that cast us in roles we felt sure we had let go of long ago — the baby, the peacekeeper, the caretaker, the avoider. It doesn’t seem to matter how much time has elapsed or how far we’ve traveled.”

Often when adult siblings receive a crisis alert that elderly Mom or Dad is sick, it is common for old roles to flare. How quickly an adult child can revert into acting like a kid when siblings get together. There is just something about being with brothers and sisters that invokes time travel, from age 45 to age 5 in a snap, and subsequently, from mature to immature. A thin line exists between sibling love and sibling rivalry.

Family dynamics are a powerful force, and when combined with the stress and fear of losing a parent, can launch (or re-start) sibling rivalry. How adult children navigate the stormy times with an older or younger sibling depends on many factors including his or her own support system, self-awareness, dedication to a greater good and emotional maturity – easy to say, hard to implement and perhaps challenging to stay the course.

Aging parents play a leading role in sibling dynamics. However, it is neither wise nor fair to count on Mom or Dad to mediate their grown up children’s feuds. Adult children need to acknowledge that they may not have had the perfect childhood or the perfect parents. Be aware of the possibility of pitting one child against another, manipulation, and the age old comparison game.

How to avoid sibling rivalry during a parent’s aging journey?

  1. Hope for the best and expect less – less in terms of personal recognition, equity, fame, glory, money, family heirlooms, etc. Aim for selflessness; it is a good look on everyone.
  2. Respect legal and fiduciary assignments that parents have executed via power of attorney documents, wills, trusts, HIPAA release authorizations, etc. whether you personally agree or not. If your parent has not made his wishes clear by executing written advance directives, consult an attorney so your parent can put these essential documents in place.
  3. Jobs for everyone!  Look at the tasks that must be accomplished. Match those tasks with individual strengths. Instead of forcing your brother to stay at the hospital with Mom when everyone knows that he is squeamish, ask him to mow the grass or hire a housekeeper. If you and your siblings cannot reach consensus quickly, phone a friend or a pastor or a family elder or a professional care manager – someone that can help you make assignments without starting a family squabble.
  4. Practice self-care. It is hard to drink from an empty glass. Stress, anxiety, fear are ingredients for a perfect sibling storm. If you are a long distance adult child or if parental love is not the common denominator in your family, send a proxy. Professional care managers are trained to facilitate during a crisis. Care managers often serve as a “surrogate” sibling and can become the glue that holds the family together through the crisis.
  5. Now is not the time. An aging parent emergency is not necessarily the time to give in to family dysfunction and sibling rivalry. Even if a family member is on your last nerve, walk (or run) away from that scene.

The common ground may be love for your parent. Meet there. Even if it’s true that your brother always received more attention, gifts, love, etc., it is bad form to expect your parent to balance the scales during a health crisis.

“The principle needs to be this: Whatever the reasons for your feelings you will have to find civilized solutions.” – Selma Fraiburg

 

Vitamin D: bring back the sunshine

February 23, 2017

As basic as our need for water, sunlight is an ingredient for healthy bodies and minds. Known as the sunshine vitamin, we produce Vitamin D in response to exposure to sunlight. It is necessary for strong bones. Bone pain and muscle weakness are ways our bodies may reflect a deficiency.

Low blood levels of Vitamin D are also associated with cognitive impairment in older adults, heart disease and cancer.

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin stored in the body so supplement levels should be checked and managed by a healthcare provider. Sitting outside on sunny days for about 10 minutes is an easy way for most people to increase levels naturally.

Working with healthcare providers to monitor Vitamin D levels as we age is good prevention practice. Build bone and muscle, reduce the risk of falls, reduce the incidence of certain cancers and possibly prevent diabetes.

Ongoing research regarding the link between Vitamin D deficiency and dementia offers hope for preventing or delaying onset Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Study results recently published by lead author “David Llewellyn, of the University of Exeter Medical School, concluded that “we expected to find an association between low vitamin D levels and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but the results were surprising – we actually found that the association was twice as strong as we anticipated.” The study showed a strong link between dementia and a Vitamin D deficiency, but researchers are not yet ready to say that a Vitamin D deficiency causes dementia. Clinical trials and further research are needed to establish whether adequate levels of the vitamin can prevent, treat, or delay Alzheimer’s.” (Source, Alzheimers.net)

When the local weather forecast predicts warm, sunny days I encourage my home bound clients and caregivers to spend time outdoors. Enjoying a sunny afternoon outside reaps multiple benefits for our elders: fresh air, a change of scenery, exercise, opportunities to socialize and boost production of the sunshine vitamin.Vitamin D