Friday, July 26, 2019

7 Ways to Help Seniors Learn New Technology

In today’s increasingly digital world, many seniors are finding it difficult to keep up. The technology that powers our lives didn’t even exist just a few short decades ago, and for a lot of our grandparents and parents, learning about it all can be more than just a little overwhelming.
If you have ever tried to help an older person learn how to use a new piece of technology, the situation may have left both of you feeling frustrated. What may seem simple to you could be a completely foreign concept to someone else. It could seem like you are speaking an entirely different language when trying to explain tech concepts, and you might feel like the other person isn’t really trying.

Helping seniors learn new technology can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Keep in mind that your elders possess vast quantities of intelligence. They just didn’t grow up with technology in the same way that younger generations have. It takes time and patience, but you can teach an older person how to use all sorts of high-tech devices. Here is some advice on how to help seniors learn new technology.

Build on Existing Knowledge
Even if someone doesn’t know anything about the newest iPad or how to use a laptop, seniors have a lot of existing knowledge that you can build on when teaching them how to use something new. Compare a newer concept with something that they are already familiar with. You could, for example, relate web addresses with street addresses when explaining how to navigate the internet.

Avoid Technical Jargon
Tech speech has become a part of our everyday language. For many seniors, though, words like selfie and emoji may not have much meaning. When trying to explain newer concepts, stick with words that they are likely to know and understand. There are usually multiple ways to describe something, and choosing the simplest option is usually best. If you use a word or phrase and the person you are speaking to doesn’t understand, backtrack and explain before moving on.

Be Patient
Watch your pace and avoid trying to go through too many topics in a short period of time. When you fully understand how to do something, it’s easy to fly through all of the steps. If you are trying to teach someone who doesn’t understand, though, going too fast will just leave everyone feeling frustrated. Take the time to explain things slowly and pause between steps.
Repeat important concepts, too. When you are presenting a lot of new information, taking the time to go over things more than once is important. Doing so makes it easier for seniors to remember what you are saying and helps reinforce the most important concepts.

Encourage Questions
When you are teaching, pause to ask for questions regularly. Many people are hesitant to interject to ask a question because they don’t want to appear rude. They may also be embarrassed. By stopping to ask for questions, you are creating a time when they can ask for help without feeling like they are a burden.
This also gives them a sense that it is an appropriate time to have questions, which can keep them from feeling embarrassed. It makes them feel more comfortable, and it provides an opportunity for you to assess whether you should move on to the next topic or spend some more time on the current one.

Let Them Try for Themselves
Many people learn more effectively when doing things themselves than when simply being taught. Whether you are teaching someone how to use a phone, tablet, computer, or another device, encourage them to learn by doing. Explain or demonstrate how to do something, then ask them to do it themselves. Allow them to take an active role in learning, and they are likely to pick up new skills much faster.

Validate Their Feelings
Seniors often get frustrated when trying to learn about technology from someone younger. They have grown accustomed to being more knowledgeable about many subjects than younger people simply because they have so much more life experience. There is a chance that they haven’t been a novice at something in decades and experiencing those feelings can be incredibly frustrating. Validate their feelings and let them know that it is perfectly all right for them to be confused in the beginning. Remind them that everyone has to start somewhere and that they can and will learn.

Wow Them
When you use technology every day, it’s easy to forget just how amazing it can be. By wowing seniors with just how amazing the tech world is, you can encourage them to work through the challenges and become savvy users themselves. Bring up a satellite view of their childhood home on Google Maps, or help them FaceTime with their grandkids on the other side of the country. Show them how you can print out beautiful photographs at home using their inkjet printer. By providing these little experiences, you can help get them more engaged in the learning process.

The Bottom Line
Teaching seniors how to use technology can be difficult. It’s important to remember, though, that even if they don’t know how to use a smartphone or a laptop, they have just as much knowledge and intelligence as anyone else. Be kind and patient and encourage them to practice their new skills as they learn. Be open to questions and don’t ever make them feel like a burden if it takes them a while to fully grasp a new concept. While teaching older people how to use technology can be frustrating, it is also incredibly rewarding. You may even learn a thing or two yourself along the way.

Tania LongeauTania Longeau serves as the Head of Services for InkJet Superstore. Tania oversees a team of Operations and Customer Service Reps from the Los Angeles headquarters. Before joining InkJet Superstore, Tania was a team leader and supervisor working for one of the biggest mortgage and real estate companies in the country. She is a happily married mother of one who enjoys spending time with her family and reading in her leisure hours.

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Thanks Tania!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Caring for Your Aging Parents Course

I have recently published my newest course on, Caring for Your Aging Parents. The cost is $22 USD. Check it out, pick up some tips and resources to assist you in this journey. Know that you are NOT alone. Please share the link with friends and family.

Monday, June 24, 2019

A Caregiver's Guide to Senior Isolation: How to Recognize the Symptoms and Prevent your Loved Ones from Experiencing Loneliness

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Loneliness is a universal experience. All of us feel lonely from time to time, and most of us learn how to cope with it. But loneliness or isolation among the senior population can come with more troubling consequences. 

The Scope of Senior Isolation

According to the Administration on Aging, senior isolation is anything but an isolated problem. In the United States alone, more than one out of three women over 65 years old are widowed, while nearly half of women over 75 are living alone. And among all seniors, 40 percent are living alone by the age of 85.

While living solo doesn’t necessarily translate to loneliness, it can certainly increase the risk.

What Factors Lead to Senior Isolation?

There are several possible factors that may lead to senior isolation. Losing a life partner or long-time friend certainly are big contributors, but other factors can include:

      Limited mobility
      Rural living
      Limited transportation or loss of driving ability
      Limited budgets
Even seniors who are living with family members aren’t necessarily immune from social isolation, especially if they’re alone all day.

The Effects of Senior Isolation

The effects of senior isolation extend beyond mental and emotional symptoms and can even lead to changes in physical health.

For the large minority of seniors living alone, isolation can increase the risk of some  serious health problems including cardiovascular disease, inflammation, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Warning Signs of Senior Isolation

It’s not always easy to tell when a loved one is feeling lonely unless they say something. However, social isolation, which is a leading cause of loneliness, is easier to spot.

Seniors can find themselves isolated due to a variety of reasons such as the loss of a long-time friend, relocation of family members, losing their driving privileges or declining mobility.

Signs and symptoms to watch out for include:

      A loss of interest in hobbies or social engagements
      A sudden change in appetite or weight
      Neglected personal hygiene
      Abnormal sleep patterns
      Feelings of helplessness

You’ll be better poised to spot signs of isolation and loneliness if you are able to observe and listen to your loved one and encourage them to share their feelings.

Prevention and Awareness

Living alone can be isolating, but it doesn’t have to be lonely.

There are alternative living solutions that can balance a senior’s preferences and needs without compromising their health and well-being. These can include:

Senior Villages
One of the most obvious options is to move to a neighborhood intended for seniors. Senior communities allow elders to continue to reap all the benefits of a small, well-connected community while still enjoying their independence.

Know Your Neighbors
If your senior loved one would prefer to age in place, get to know your loved one’s neighbors so that they can be allies who will work with you to keep your family member safe and involved in the world.

Get Involved
Seniors who prefer to age in place can also benefit from becoming more active in their community through volunteer work, community education programs or community centers. 

If your loved one has a hobby, check into area clubs or programs focused on that hobby. Local libraries are a great place to start. 

See a Doctor
Make sure your loved one visits his or her doctor regularly. Sometimes elders become isolated not out of choice, but because their hearing or vision deteriorates slowly to the point that they’re no longer confident in their ability to move about safely and communicate effectively.

Regular eye and hearing checks will catch problems at an earlier stage while physical checkups can help prevent issues that increase the risk of frailty.

We're living longer than previous generations, but that doesn't mean we have to face our golden years alone. With the right support system, our parents and grandparents can live full, vibrant — and connected — lives for years to come.

Author Bio: Christian Worstell is a freelance writer living in Raleigh, NC


Thanks Christian!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Helping New Clients Adjust to Having a Caregiver for the First Time

The need for a caregiver is a life-changing event for most people. Sometimes this is caused by an unexpected event, like a fall resulting in a fracture, or it may be the expected gradual decline of old age.

The client may or may not have dementia. They may have a family caregiver who needs occasional respite, and this will be the first time they are having a “stranger” assisting them. At-home senior care can range from companion care to medical care by an RN. Whatever the situation, the goal is to have this first time be as comfortable and stress-free as possible for the new client.
Success or failure is greatly influenced by how much preparation and communication exists between all persons involved. Here are some ways that this will be a smooth transition from total independence to accepting some amount of assistance.

1. Clearly determine the role of the caregiver. What type of assistance is needed? Will the caregiver need to assist with personal care? Will meal preparation be needed? A realistic evaluation of the client’s abilities and weaknesses needs to be made. Families are not always able to make this assessment, so the assistance of professionals can be invaluable. Also consult with the client’s doctor for any medical complications that need to be addressed.

2. Determine the client’s previous experience with accepting help. Have they had professional cleaning help in the past? Have they used Meals on Wheels? Has someone been hired to mow the grass or shovel the snow? The use of any outside help gives the client a frame of reference for accepting help from the caregiver.

3. Determine if there is a family caregiver. Some clients have trouble accepting the help from a professional caregiver instead of a family member. It helps if they know this is temporary, and that their family member is returning. The client may or may not recognize the family caregiver’s need to have personal time away from the client to “recharge their batteries.” Perhaps presenting this new professional senior caregiver as a way for the family caregiver to enjoy their time away and not have to worry about the client will be easier for the client to accept.

4. Patience is key. This will probably be an anxiety-provoking experience for the client, especially if they are afflicted with Alzheimer’s. If possible, the first visit of the at-home senior care provider should be made while the family caregiver is at home also. Present the professional caregiver as helping the family caregiver out, so she can complete a task like working on her tax return. It may help the client to accept this stranger into their home if the help is for the other family member.

5. The caregiver should treat the client with respect. Ask the client how they want to be addressed. Do they prefer Mrs. Smith, or do they want you to use their first name? Avoid the use of terms of endearment like Honey or Sweetie unless the person seems to be open to it—but definitely not on the first day.

6. Allow the client to make appropriate decisions. Don’t say ”I’m making cereal for your breakfast.” Rather, ask if they would like cereal or pancakes. Give them the ability to be the “boss” in their own home whenever you can.

7. Try different approaches, especially if the client has dementia. If the client is resisting doing necessary tasks, maybe a sense of humor will help, or reasoning with them, or referring to the family caregiver or even their physician. If you say the doctor wants them to take this medicine, etc, they may be more inclined to take it. Change the point of reference to something more appealing. For instance, change showering into spa day, and include polishing nails and extra time to pamper the client.

8. Take suggestions. The family of the client should suggest some activities for the caregiver to share with the client. If mom likes to bake, have a box of brownie mix available for them to make. If Dad likes sports, have the game on for them to enjoy together along with typical snacks. Make a list of activities the client enjoys doing. Then the caregiver can use the list to suggest things for them to do while they are at the home together.

9. Follow the same schedule. Make sure the at home senior care provider knows the client’s usual schedule. Maintaining the routine can prevent stress and anxiety for the senior, especially if they have dementia. On the other hand, if they like to sleep-in mornings or stay up late at night, this would be a good time to indulge either.

10. Share a smile. Last, whenever caring for someone in their home, put a smile on your face. Whether you are a professional senior caregiver or the family caregiver, look like you want to be there with them and that you enjoy their company. The positive upbeat attitude you project will start off your beginning relationship with the client in a positive way.

Hopefully, each time a caregiver comes to the home, it will be easier for the senior person to accept and even enjoy the experience. Professional senior care providers will always try to have the same caregiver come to the home, so a trusting relationship can be developed.
However, if the client doesn’t feel comfortable with a certain caregiver, don’t be afraid to ask to try someone else. If at all possible, try to determine what it is about the caregiver that they don’t like. It can be as simple as some people like a more energetic, active personality and another may prefer a more quiet, calm personality. The agency will always try to match the client with the right caregiver for them.

The more often the senior has a caregiver experience, the sooner the senior caregiver will be more comfortable with the client and the client will become more comfortable with the caregiver. In time, they could become friends, and the client will look forward to the caregiver’s visits.


Author Bio: Susan Ashby joined the Superior Senior Care team in July of 2014 as Community Relations Manager. With over 27 years of experience in geriatric health, Susan brings a wealth of knowledge and insight to Superior Senior Care and plays an integral part in connecting consumers and communities with resources for independent living.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

How to Recognize and Combat Geriatric Depression

How to Recognize and Combat Geriatric Depression 
It is a completely appropriate and normal response to feel sadness from any adjustment in life, such as weight changes, limited mobility, aches and pains and other circumstances that can be associated with aging. Fluctuating emotions are a part of life and being human. It is when that sadness is overwhelming, persistent and impacting quality of life that there is major cause for concern. Contrary to what many people believe, depression is not an inevitable part of aging, and one should never feel powerless if they believe they suffer from depression.
 It is estimated that 15 percent of Americans older than 65 years old suffer from this diagnosable, treatable mental illness, with a large majority of those individuals not receiving adequate-enough treatment or care, if at all. From those who only recently retired or are living in retirement communities to those receiving elderly home care, no one is completely exempt from this illness that affects people of all ages and from all walks of life.  

Why is it Hard to Detect?
As depression is a mental disorder, it can easily and often go undetected by family, friends, health providers and even the individual grappling with the illness. One reason that it often goes under the radar is because experiencing sadness, hardship and loneliness is something everyone undergoes at some point in their lives. This can make it hard for someone to distinguish “normal” human emotion from a more serious issue that needs medical attention. 
Another reason depression is hard to pinpoint may be because of the stigma that still surrounds the illness. This may explain why so many people, senior citizens included, fail to admit they suffer from a mental disorder that can be addressed and treated. Not to mention, seniors may often have less resources, limited mobility and smaller support networks that make it hard to reach out when they need guidance and support on how to deal with and manage their depression.
Depression and Other Health Issues 
Symptoms of depression in seniors can be physical, such as aches and muscle weakness, as well as cognitive, like illogical reasoning and forgetfulness. Not only can these be mistaken simply for signs of aging, but they also often are not symptoms that younger people with depression experience. Since depression in young ages is better understood and more readily recognized, people may not even realize that the symptoms an elder is exhibiting are indications that depression is present. 
Oftentimes, depression co-occurs with other health problems, making it even harder for health providers to diagnose. For instance, seniors with depression are at higher risks for cardiac diseases and death from other illnesses. This only goes to show that it is essential that depression be diagnosed and treated, as it correlates with lower quality of life, shorter average lifespans and risk of suicide. 
Symptoms of Depression
A senior who is suffering from depression may exhibit different symptoms from another person experiencing the very same mental illness. While it’s important to note that depression can manifest in many forms, you can gain a better understanding of it by considering these common symptoms:

  • Trouble sleeping or restlessness
  • Persistent, severe pain
  • Poor body- and self-image
  • Delayed thinking and forgetfulness
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Fatigue and irritability
  • Digestive problems and cramps 
  • Consistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness or apathy
  • Feelings of social isolation 
If any or all of these ring true for you or a loved one, consult with a doctor who can get to the underlying cause of these symptoms and give you the peace of mind and answers you seek.  

Common Treatments for Depression
When it comes to treating depression, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. What may work wonders for one person may not be as effective for another. That is why it is important to do your research to find the right treatment methods that will work for your circumstance or your loved one’s unique circumstance. Some of the more common treatment options include:Antidepressants–When considering medication, discuss the options thoroughly with a doctor so you can fully understand the potential risks and side effects before any new medication is introduced.
  • Antidepressants–When considering medication, discuss the options thoroughly with a doctor so you can fully understand the potential risks and side effects before any new medication is introduced. 
  • Counseling–Speaking with a therapist is another popular route people take. Therapy gives people the opportunity to voice what’s on their mind, hopefully feeling peace by talking through their problems and stressors in the process. 
  • Psychotherapy–If the potential for side effects from new medication is too great or risky, psychotherapy is a popular alternative. This is a common option often used for those who deal with intense stressors from their pasts.

In Addition to Treatment
Because of the nature of old age, many seniors suffer from loneliness and feel cut off from past enjoyments, resources and people they can rely on. While not to be considered a cure or treatment for depression, having an elderly caregiver can help ease their burdens and make their daily lives a bit easier. Companionship and some assistance navigating day-to-day tasks is something found in elderly care services. If you are concerned about a loved one who lives alone and suffers from depression, do your research to see if this is something that can be beneficial for your family. 
If you fear you or a senior family member suffers from depression, remember there will always be resources and help. The road to feeling better and regaining lust for life may seem intimidating at first but one that doesn’t have to be navigated alone. Those suffering from depression can reach out to family, friends and health providers and find the help they deserve to continue living the happiest, healthiest, most fulfilling life possible.  

Author Bio: Susan Ashby joined the Superior Senior Care team in July of 2014 as Community Relations Manager. With over 27 years of experience in geriatric health, Susan brings a wealth of knowledge and insight to Superior Senior Care and plays an integral part in connecting consumers and communities with resources for independent living.

Thanks Susan for a great guest post

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Neat Sheets for Your Aging Parents

I recently received a few samples from to review. I have to say this is one of the best products I've seen.

I wish I had had them for my mom especially in her last few weeks when eating was a huge challenge due to her insistence on feeding herself despite tremors and loss of function. We went through a lot of towels and expensive chux, and they didn't keep her dry when we had soups or other liquids which were her favorites.

These can be so helpful for caregivers and to keep your aging parents neat and dry when eating or drinking. So much about caring for aging parents involves preserving their dignity and independence in any way possible. These are cute protectors without the appearance of a large baby bib!

The sheets remind me of those little paper bibs you get at the dentist office, but larger. These sheets are 13 x 22" and have adhesive strips to hold them in place. They are absorbent on the front and repellent on the back, and disposable. They're also very durable and can be reused if they aren't soiled. 

As a home health care nurse, these would have come in handy many times. Your car becomes your home away from home and many a snack or meal is eaten on the road. How many times I've spilled mayonnaise, mustard or coffee!! Could have saved me! Even now, I often eat breakfast on my way to work these days and they worked out well.

I saw a testimonial on their website about people using them at a large Bar B Que party. That would be a great use! There are many ideas for use almost everywhere and in any situation. They come in 4 designs and are available in packs of 20, 80, 100 or 400 and reasonably priced.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Helping Your Senior Parent Downsize From a Distance

By Clair Wentz

Life has a way of separating loved ones, and this often is true of adult children and their parents. Distance often makes the heart grow fonder, but it does not make helping a senior accept downsizing any easier. However, adult children should help their aging parents take the steps necessary to move into the final stages of life in any way they can. Whether this means assisting them as they move into a senior retirement community or simply a smaller space, distance does not have to mean helplessness.

photo from Pixabay

If You Can, Make an Appearance

Family obligations and preferences pertaining to quality of life are just two of the reasons why adult children may live far from their parents. While living near your elderly parent is ideal, it is not always going to be an option. Still, if your parent is facing a move, it is nice to take a trip to provide emotional support while explaining to him or her, in person, why it will be better.

If you are planning to move your parents into a smaller space, explain the financial benefits that they, their children, and their grandchildren may eventually see from such a wise move. This may seem like a selfish approach, but explaining that money saved could also go toward reasonable travel and other hobbies will make it clear that it is not all about you. Downsizing will minimize the stress that an aging loved one may feel to maintain an unreasonably large property.

Taking Care of Business from Afar

If you and your parent decide that life in a senior living facility is more suitable, many of the responsibilities of caregiving will be taken care of by a staff of professionals. Many senior living communities will handle daily care and provide necessary rehab and even potentially memory-strengthening services.

For those whose parent is merely downsizing, hiring a regular caretaker is recommended. Senior Directory explains that many elderly adults can live independently, but having a caregiver who pops in a few times a week is always a good idea. Family Caregiver Alliance provides advice on how to make a decision regarding the necessity of an in-home caregiver.

Regardless of having an in-home caregiver, there are several tasks which adult children can take care of to support and care for their parent. A Place for Mom suggests that long-distance caregivers remain in tune with their loved one’s condition, staying in regular contact through phone calls.

Organize Documents and Finances

In addition, a long-distance caregiver can keep documents organized that pertain to the senior’s health and other affairs, including finances. Speaking of finances, paying medical bills is another duty that a senior should not have to worry about. If they have a Medicare plan that helps cover their bills, the duty of paying attention to any changes in their plan should fall on both you and your loved one so that you don’t learn the hard way that something you thought would be covered no longer is. There are great online resources that can keep you both in the know about these changes, walk you through the process of enrolling for or updating a plan, and for learning what is offered in their state. Coordinating appointments when necessary is another way care can be given, even from far away.

While it may seem that living hours or even states away from an elderly loved one ties the hands of a caregiver, this is not the case. There is plenty that caregivers, often adult children, can do to aid an aging loved one. This long-distance care takes many forms, whether it means providing emotional support via communication or taking care of the many administrative tasks a senior is rarely capable or willing to do on his or her own. Taking care of some of these duties should help ease the burden that distance imposes on an adult hoping to help care for a senior parent.

Claire Wentz is creator of and author of the upcoming book, Caring from Afar: A Comprehensive Guide for Long-Distance Senior Caregivers. Claire is a former home health nurse and recognizes that our aging population means many more people will become senior caregivers over the years. Specifically, she is interested in providing assistance and support to those caregivers who do not live near their loved ones. She hopes her writing will inform them, uplift them, and give them peace of mind when they need it.

Thanks Claire!