For many senior adults, their automobile is their lifeline to the outside world. As they age, many times their physical and mental reflexes may slow down, making driving more dangerous for them and for others. Families may be forced to face the uncomfortable question "When is it time to take the keys away?"
A senior adult may have many wonderful things in their lives, but it doesn't negate that as they age, they may have also lost control of several other facets of their life. Their grown children may have taken charge of the finances, they may have lost a spouse to dementia or death, and they may have been forced to leave a home they lived in for years, and move into an assisted living facility or retirement community where it is safer for them to live. Facing the reality that there could be still another "loss", the loss of their independence and mobility through driving, could be a difficult pill to swallow. How does a family know whether or not it is time to deal with this issue?
First, if there has been more than one accident in a relatively short period of time, it could be a sign that it's time for them to stop driving. This could be not only for their safety, but for the safety and well being of other drivers (or pets) on or near the road. Another sign might be if their hearing or vision has drastically changed for the worse in a fairly quick period of time. This could handicap their ability to safely drive, putting their vehicle and their physical well being at risk. Finally, if they are having a greater frequency of memory problems, driving could become difficult, simply because they could easily become disoriented or lost.
So what are the best ways to address an issue like this? One of the most simple ways to confront this issue would be to have a private phone call with their physician. Many times seniors will take the respected opinion of their doctor regarding an issue like this, when they would argue and vehemently reject it if the same conversation and advice came from their grown children. Another way to address it would be to simply find more and better ways for them to accomplish the things they need to do in life WITHOUT driving. For instance, a trip to the grocery store can be replaced with online ordering and delivery of groceries. If their living arrangements allow for it, then public transportation might also be another option. Finally, for the money an individual spends on a car, gas and insurance, it might simply be a great money saving idea for them to use options like Uber or Lyft instead. Most seniors seem to open up to new ideas when it can ultimately save them some money!
If none of these options seem to put the family members at the safety and comfortable level needed, then it may be time for a family conference with the loved one. Those who know them best will be able to determine if this should be a "group" conversation, or simply a one-on-one visit with the senior and one trusted family member or friend. Be prepared to spell out the specific concerns and safety issues, as well as explain the benefits and other transportation options. This could place a greater strain on family members need to become the "designated driver" for the senior, so family and friends should be prepared to help out as needed for things like grocery shopping, doctor's appointments and church attendance.
This doesn't need to be a horrible event in the life of the senior, or those family members facing it Together, families can find solutions that provide safety and peace of mind. Member agencies of the OPHC have staff who are qualified and able to also provide driving assistance with all of the items listed above. By hiring one of these qualified agencies, family members need not worry about taking time off of work, or feeling overburdened with commitments to taxi their loved one around.
Click on the "About Us" tab at the top of the page, and select "Membership Directory" for the list of member agencies available to assist you!
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Money... the necessary blessing and evil that seems to impact every area of our lives! So many seniors have worked all of their lives, looking forward to that golden age called "retirement", and many have done a great job when it comes to planning for their income during that retirement period.
But what about planning for the other issues that can come crashing in around around our lives during our senior years? What happens when a senior has a debilitating stroke, and needs extensive care that isn't covered by Medicare? Or how do you pay for care when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia, but the family desperately wants to allow them to be cared for in the home as long as possible?
These are serious issues, and these issues and issues like them can totally devastate the finances of a family that thought it was financially prepared for old age. It's critical that families explore and understand exactly what Medicare or Medicaid with pay for, and what it will not pay for. If they haven't already checked into the feasibility of Long Term Care insurance, this is also another important option to pursue. Finally, if an individual or their spouse is or was a veteran in the Armed Forces, there may be financial assistance for care as well through the Veteran's Administration. This aid may have certain requirements or restrictions, and will require the gathering of certain documentation as well, so it's critical to begin that process as soon as possible.
One critical but very important option that could literally save tens of thousands of dollars later would be for your family to meet with an attorney who specializes in elder law. These lawyers understand the nuances and changing landscape of legal and financial issues regarding seniors. This would include tax issues, financial management of funds, trusts and so much more. Spending just a little with an attorney today could be an investment that could save your loved one thousands of dollars later.
The bottom line is simple... Private, one on one care for your loved one in the home is the best option you can provide. But whether you are able to provide in home care, or facility care becomes the only option available, EVERYTHING has a price tag attached to it.
Member agencies of the Oklahoma Professionals for Home Care deal with these issues on a daily basis, and are uniquely equipped to assist your family in facing them, or have the ability to put you in contact with qualified people who can do so! Just click on the "About Us" tab at the top of the page, and then click on "Membership Directory" for a complete listing or our members! Remember, Money Matters, and it's up to you now to make the wise decisions to help make the money last as long as possible, and get the biggest bang for your bucks!
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Shower Chair Matters!
I walked into Mrs. Brown’s house and I do the usual safety inspection of the home. The most dangerous place for frail elderly is the bathroom. One of the simplest safety devices is a shower chair. But when I investigated Mrs. Brown’s shower, I discovered a lawn chair in the bathtub. The legs were beginning to rust, and the plastic weave bottom was loosening. This was a fall waiting to happen. The correct shower chairs matters and there are many different types of models.
The first question to ask yourself before purchasing a shower chair is how much does the person weigh. Small simple shower chairs usually are meant for people under 200 pounds. Every shower chair comes with a weight limit. The second question is the space to put a shower chair. Is it a tub or a shower? The third question is do they need a shower chair with handles or a back?
If a person has a tub, they must be able to get their legs over the side of the tub. If they are not able to do that, I recommend they purchase a shower bench where part of the bench sits outside the tub. That way the only thing the person must do is sit and scoot over. Some benches even come with a chair that a person sits on the outside and it glides over into the bathtub. Some bathrooms are very narrow, and the bench can block access to the toilet, so the bench needs to be put away after the shower. Another advantage of benches is that they usually can hold more weight.
If a person has a shower, I usually recommend a shower chair with a back and handles on the side to push up with. Most seniors need the handles to help them stand up and the back allows them to not fall back. Grab bars should also be installed at the entrance of the shower as this allows the individual to safely step into the shower.
The last piece of equipment is a handheld shower wand. This allows the individual to hold the wand and moderate the temperature and move it around to shower themselves. Most people do not want water splashing into their face.
Most of these devices in the United States cost between 50 to 100 dollars and is well worth it to prevent a major fall and broken bones. According to the CDC one in three people over the age of 65 fall every year and is a major reason they must be placed into a long-term care facility. Invest in safe shower equipment—you will not regret it. Feel free to contact any member agencies of OPHC and they will be willing to do a safety inspection of your loved one’s home.
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