With stores putting out holiday decorations well before Halloween, it is hard to avoid the hype surrounding the holiday season.For most people, it is an anticipated time of year with traditions, memories and family gatherings. But for older residents, these same reasons may result in the blues, making the holidays a challenging time. Sometimes beloved traditions and family gatherings become out of reach as we age and may be isolated from friends and families. Holidays may remind us of the passing of time, who is missing in our lives and who is not nearby. The loss of holiday traditions and gatherings often changes the way we feel about the holidays. Sometimes reminiscing on traditions that have gone can fuel feelings of loneliness.An AARP study found that 31% of respondents felt lonely during the holiday season. Additionally, another 41% worried about a family member or friend feeling lonesome. Whats more, more than 12 million Americans over age 65 live alone, according to the American Psychological Association. As children grow up and move away, neighborhoods change, and friends pass, the opportunities for close connections sometimes become limited. Financial constraints and loss of independence and mobility can change looking forward to the holidays to dreading them. To help avoid the holiday blues, here are some steps you can take to restore holiday joy. Find new ways to connect, such as video chat and email. Write letters, cards and call. You do not have to wait for family members to reach out. Take initiative. Connecting with others is one of the best ways to relieve loneliness. It is heathy to feel sadness about missing family and friends. It is important to acknowledge your feelings. Volunteer and help others. If you are able, you can help with daily tasks that may seem overwhelming or share a meal. If you are feeling lonely, maybe your neighbor is, too. Being available for someone else is good medicine. Be kind to yourself. Continue your wellness routines and healthy habits. Rethink how you do things this season. Joy is not limited to the last two months of the year! Every day can be treated as a holiday! Consider trying a new activity or hobby or teach someone something you are good at. Limit screen time. A constant diet of bad news creates anxiety. Resolve to make the best of the holidays but adjust your expectations and adopt realistic goals. While the holidays may look different over time, they can still be meaningful. The most important thing to make someone feel special this season is to simply spend time with them. If you cannot participate in person, FaceTime or Zoom also work.Here are other ways you can help others (and yourself) find joy in the holidays and help banish the holiday blues: Share your traditions with others and enjoy theirs. Reflect about past holidays as you unpack cherished decorations. Listen to the stories of others and ask about special pieces. Make a conscious effort to be available for those who might be feeling isolated. Plan a regular call or visit or reach out with a video call or old-fashioned letter. For anyone who might be struggling with holiday loneliness, provide a comfortable space for them to talk. Save judgments or problem solving and simply have a genuine conversation. As you plan your celebrations, look for ways to be inclusive. Extending an invitation may not be enough to make others feel included. Being with a crowd of strangers who have little in common can still feel very lonely. Being recognized and honored goes a long way in combating loneliness. Be open to asking about and including favorite memories such as treasured decorations, traditional treats and meaningful music. Religious organizations often offer extra social and/or spiritual support. Just talking with someone can go a long way. Bring or send familiar treats that represent holiday customs for elders to enjoy and share. Often, holiday blues are temporary. However, if symptoms last for more than two weeks, they can indicate clinical anxiety or depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), socially isolated older adults are at higher risk for depression.It may be time to seek help if you or someone you love is experiencing any of these common symptoms of depression: Feeling so down you cannot shake it off Too little or too much sleep, or interruptions through the night Changes in appetite; eating more or less than usual Difficulty concentrating Lack of interest in the things that typically make you happy Irritability Lack of interest in socializing or engaging with others. Plan to look for and spread cheer this season, but if the holiday blues linger well beyond the season, discuss your symptoms with your primary care provider.ABOUT THE AUTHOR Courtney L. Whitt, Ph.D. is Director of Behavioral Health at Healthcare Network, which offers behavioral health services as a routine part of comprehensive care and traditional counseling services. Healthcare Network provides quality primary care services for children and adults in locations throughout Collier County. To learn more or make an appointment, please call 239.658.3000 or visit HealthcareSWFL.org.
Weve all seen the commercial with the infamous line: Help, Ive fallen and I cant get up! The advertisement itself may have been a bit melodramatic, but it raises an important question: what should seniors do if they actually fall and cannot get up?This is where a medical alert system can be critical.What are Medical Alert Systems?Medical alert systems, sometimes referred to as life alert devices, are emergency monitors for seniors to use as they go about their everyday lives. Many medical alert systems are used in the seniors home. These usually consist of a base unit and sensors that are mounted on the wall of the home. These types of systems can detect a fall in the home and trigger an automatic call to emergency services.Some systems also come with a portable option for the senior to wear wherever they go. The main feature of mobile options is the help button. When an emergency such as an injury or fall occurs, seniors can press this button to send out an alert and get the help they need.Oftentimes seniors wear these portable monitors around their neck like a long necklace, on their wrist like a bracelet, on their belt loop, or in their pocket. These monitors should be small and portable so the senior can wear them at all times, and waterproof so they can wear them in the bath or shower a common location for falls.How Do Medical Alert Systems Work?Most medical alert systems allow for real-time tracking through the use of voice, data, and GPS technology. This is important because it gives emergency services the seniors exact location in case of an emergency.With a mobile device, seniors can press the help button after a fall to alert emergency personnel. An in-home system will automatically alert emergency services when it detects a fall. Many basic systems simply alert emergency services once the help button is pressed. More elaborate systems are connected to a 24-hour call center that fields the emergencies and determines the next move. They are able to either alert the seniors emergency contacts (set up ahead of time) or send for emergency services if needed.Who Should Use Medical Alert Systems?All seniors could benefit from having a medical alert system, since you never know when an incident may occur. But, these emergency alert buttons are especially important for seniors who live alone or are aging in place. If a senior who lives alone has a fall and no one is there to help, a medical alert system is not just beneficial; it can actually be lifesaving.Additionally, wearing a medical alert system is one way for seniors to maintain their independence at home while still being prepared for an emergency. And it also provides peace of mind for family members and caregivers that their loved ones can access help in case of an emergency.Why Should Seniors Use a Medical Alert System?The main reason for seniors to use a medical alert system is to allow for fast action in case of a fall or other emergency. According to the CDC, around 36 million falls are reported among seniors every year. Falls can be caused by a number of reasons, such as certain health and cognitive conditions, loss of muscle mass, and weakened eyesight, reflexes, and balance. They can also be caused by unsafe footwear or safety hazards inside and outside the home, like steps, rugs, spills, and clutter.Falls should be taken seriously when they occur. Falls are the leading cause of accidents, serious injuries, and accidental deaths in seniors. To that end, emergency departments treat 3 million seniors for injuries from falls every year. That is more than 8,000 falls every day.The risk of falling can also be a major source of anxiety for seniors, as falls can threaten their independence, mobility, and physical health.Oftentimes when a senior falls, they need help from someone else to regain their balance and get back up. But, if they live alone or no one is around, they may not be able to get themselves up at all. Being stuck on the ground for a long period of time is extremely dangerous for seniors and prolongs their risk of serious injury. Therefore, getting help quickly after a fall is key. With a medical alert system, even a senior who lives alone can have peace of mind that help is available when they need it all at the push of a button. How Much Do Medical Alert Systems Cost?As with all technology, the price of medical alert systems can vary based on equipment, activation, monitoring type, extra devices, and additional features.Some companies allow you to rent their medical alert system equipment, and some require you to buy it. Buying the items may cost anywhere from $50-$350 depending on the type of equipment.In addition, many medical alert systems charge a monthly fee to use their service. This fee pays for access to the 24-hour emergency call center.Generally, the service cost for at-home medical alert systems is around $25 per month or $239 per year. The service cost for on-the-go-devices is slightly more expensive at around $30-$45 a month. Sometimes there is an additional one-time installation or activation fee that can range from $25-$100. However, this fee is often included in the package when you purchase and initiate a medical alert system.Are Medical Alert Systems Covered by Insurance?Usually medical alert systems are not covered by insurance. But, some options might be available to help you cover the cost.For example, your HSA or FSA may offer a deduction for medical alert systems. Medicare Advantage may also cover some of the cost of medical alert systems. You may be able to get coverage through Veterans benefits as well. However, make sure you check with your insurance provider or your states Medicare/Medicaid program, as benefits can vary by policy or state.If you need assistance funding a medical alert system, be sure to contact your local sheriffs office or Area Agency on Aging, which sometimes have grants or resources available. Best Affordable Medical Alert Systems for SeniorsThere are hundreds of companies that sell medical alert systems. Some of the top-rated, affordable options are as follows:MobileHelp - The National Council on Aging (NCOA) voted this company as Best All-Around System. Their monthly fees start at $19.95 and fall buttons are available for an additional $10 per month. They also offer a free trial period.Bay Alarm Medical - The NCOA voted this company as Best for the Price. Their fees start at $25 per month and fall buttons are available for an additional $10 per month. They also offer a free trial period.Lively - Voted Best Health Services by the NCOA, this companys fees start at $25 per month, with fall detection buttons for an additional $25 per month.Other options include Get Safe as a basic option, Medical Guardian MGMove as a wearable option, and Fast Help as an easy, quick option available on Amazon. Some other notable providers of medical alert systems are ADT Medical Alert and Life Alert.How to Help Your Senior Loved OnesMedical alert systems are one impactful way to gain confidence about your senior loved ones safety as they age. For some seniors, this is all the reassurance they need about their safety and independence. But, other seniors may need a little more support.Having a fall can reveal or trigger the need for additional support. Whether you are looking for support in a senior living community or are seeking home health care services, Florida Senior Consulting can help. Our expert senior advisors will find your loved one the care they need to lead a healthy lifestyle, stay safe and lower their risk of falls and injuries. With this peace of mind ultimately comes a better quality of life for seniors and their families.When the decisions become too overwhelming, our experts are here for you. And, we offer these services at no cost to seniors or their families.Senior living on your terms. The choice should be yours.For peace of mind, call us at (800) 969-7176 or visit us at FloridaSeniorConsulting.com.
When your friend is grieving, you want to do everything you can to be there for them and support them during this difficult time. But you may wonder are you overstepping? What if you say the wrong thing? Its common to second guess ourselves when we have the best intentions for supporting a friend after a loss.Grief is something we all experience at some point, but without some guidance, it can be difficult to know how to best support someone when theyve lost a loved one, said Erin Smith of The Terraces at Bonita Springs, a senior living community in Bonita Springs, FloridaWere starting a group for widows in our community called The Terraces Vita Nova Social Club. This will be a space where people in our local community who have lost their significant other have an opportunity to connect and socialize through new friendships, Erin continued.Vita Nova gives members the opportunity to talk about their experiences, their challenges, and enjoy the shared support of the people around them. The group will also focus on moving forward and finding joy in the next chapter of their lives through engaging gatherings and new friendships.Vita Nova aims to provide ladies with a space where they feel encouraged to venture away from isolated homes to spend an afternoon with others who have gone through a similar experience.As a friend, keep these simple ways in mind so that you can be there for a grieving friend.1. Reach Out to Your FriendReach out with a phone call or a text message to express your condolences. This small action lets them know youre there for them and will support them through this difficult time. Remember to keep reaching out, even after the initial wave of loss has settled.2. ListenYou may be with your friend when they feel like they want to vent about their emotions or talk about their loved one. A study examining grief support showed that allowing the grieving person to discuss their loved one and not rush them through their feelings felt emotionally supported.One key thing to remember is to not advise or interrupt your friend. Simply listening and letting them get anything they want off their chest can be a huge help to their grieving process.3. Validate Their FeelingsWhen your friend is discussing how theyre feeling, its important to validate them. While grief is a process, its not always a straightforward process. Your friend may have had a good couple of weeks, only to feel their grief all over again. Being there to validate their feelings and that its okay for them not to be okay can provide them with comfort and assurance.4. Show UpShowing up is one of the best ways to support your grieving friend.You cook a meal, drop it off to them, and its ready to go in the oven.You stop by with groceries.You take their dog for a walk or mow the lawn.Often, when you say, Let me know if I can do anything for you, your friend may not feel comfortable reaching out and asking. By showing up with a plan, you can alleviate some of the most difficult parts of going through the grieving process keeping up with everything else.Use the phrase Id love it if youd allow me to to increase the odds of them accepting your assistance without shame.5. Help Your Friend Find SupportWhile there are many ways you can support your friend, they may benefit from other types of support as well. A support group for people who have experienced loss, like your friend, can help them connect with others and hear from others who are further along in the grieving process. They may not be ready for quite some time, but gently remind them that they may find comfort in like-minded individuals.6. Plan an ActivityWhen your friend is going through the grieving process, some days or times of the week may be particularly difficult. For example, the demands of the workweek and running a house may keep your friend occupied Monday through Friday, but they struggle with Saturdays.Taking them out for coffee, to walk around a farmers market, or to their favorite restaurant can give them something to look forward to and get through the more difficult days.7. Keep in TouchMany people may be in touch with your friend immediately following their loss. However, when life starts to get back to normal, those people may stop reaching out. Keeping in touch with your friend will show them that youre there for them and available to give them support during the grieving process.Get Support at The Terraces at Bonita SpringsNavigating the loss of a loved one isnt something you should have to face alone. Fortunately, at The Terraces at Bonita Springs, youll have friends and associates to hold your hand and help. Give us a call at 239-949-7848 to learn more about our groups dedicated to those who have experienced the loss of a significant partner.