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.
You may have started to notice some changes in your parents abilities as time goes on. Whether they seem more forgetful or are having more trouble moving around the house, changes in ability are inevitable as we age. We all want the best for our parents and relatives. Sometimes this means having difficult conversations about aging, plans, needs, and lifestyle changes.Though never easy, it is important to have these conversations before something life-altering occurs. This allows both you and your parents plenty of time to make decisions and plans everyone agrees upon without being rushed or stressed.How to have difficult conversations with your aging parentsStarting a conversation with your parents about their aging needs and decisions can feel intimidating. Seniors can sometimes be reluctant to discuss matters related to aging for a number of reasons. Some worry about a loss of independence and autonomy, which can be upsetting. Others do not feel like they need help, or do not want to feel like a burden to their family. And some are simply unsure of what their next best step should be.Therefore, it is important to meet your parents worries with empathy and patience. These conversations take time, which is why you should begin having them as early as possible. Start small, and provide plenty of reassurance that you are there to support them throughout the process. Try to have these discussions in a place where your parents feel comfortable and relaxed. It is also helpful to have another close family member there, but be cautious of involving too many others you do not want your parents to feel threatened or embarrassed.Overall, offer a listening ear and be sure to emphasize the positives of the situation. Mention how relieving it will feel to get documents in place and important decisions made. Bring up the benefits of a senior living community if that is part of the discussion. Reassure them that you have their best interest at heart and want them to have more independence, safety, and a better quality of life. And, give it time. The more you ease into these difficult conversations, the more your parents will feel open to having them.Topics to discuss with your aging parentsThe subject of aging can lead to many conversations with our loved ones. Below are 5 major topics you should discuss with your parents as they enter their later years of life. With each topic are example questions you can use as conversation starters that will keep the discussion productive and focused.1. Healthcare needsHealth and medical care is an extremely important topic for people as they age. Between legal documents, healthcare delivery decisions and treatment preferences, there are many scenarios you should go over with your aging parents regarding their health. While it might seem unpleasant, it is best to be familiar with all this information before you need it. That way, your parents will receive future medical care based on their wishes.Here are some questions to ask your aging parents about healthcare needs:Are you following a healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition and exercise?Do you have advance healthcare directives including a living will, health care proxy, do not resuscitate (DNR) and do not intubate (DNI) orders, and HIPPA release?Do you have a durable power of attorney for medical decisions? Do you have a list of all your doctors contact information?Do you have a list of all your medications and pharmacy information?Can a loved one accompany you to your medical appointments if needed?Do you need any mobility aids such as a rollator, walker, cane, wheelchair, or power scooter?Will any of your health conditions eventually require additional care?What are your preferences about end-of-life care?2. Living arrangementsHousing choices can be one of the more contentious topics for aging parents. It can be hard for seniors to accept that their needs and abilities may be changing. But, it is an important discussion that will affect your parents future happiness and well-being especially before a crisis occurs. Questions to ask your aging parents about their current and future living situations:Would you consider downsizing to a more accessible home that is easier to manage? Would you consider moving to be closer to friends or family members?Would you consider moving somewhere with a warmer climate, like Florida?In the future, would you prefer to stay home and age in place?Are you willing to hire in-home care if you decide to age at home?If you can no longer live at home, would you rather move in with a family member or move to a senior living community?Could you benefit from no longer having the responsibility of maintaining a home?Could you use more social interaction?What types of senior living communities are you interested in? Retirement communities, CCRCs, independent living, assisted living, or memory care? Can we or a trusted senior advisor accompany you on tours of senior living communities?What questions do you have about senior living communities? 3. Legal documentsAnother major topic to discuss with your aging relatives is getting legal documents in place. Again, it is of the utmost importance to have these documents completed before they need to be used. This way, you can be sure all legal decisions are made based on your parents wishes. You may need to enlist the help of a professional elder law attorney to make sure all necessary paperwork is completed accurately. Questions to ask your aging parents about financial and legal documents:Do you have an up-to-date will?Do you have a living will?Do you have an elder law attorney to help with estate planning?Do you have a durable power of attorney for financial decisions?Where are all your important documents located? 4. Home safetyHome safety and accessibility is an important matter to discuss with aging relatives, especially because it affects their day-to-day well-being. Remind your parents that the safer their home is, the longer they can live there independently. It is always better to prevent future issues proactively than to be forced to react to them after they occur. Questions to ask your aging parents about their safety at home:Is your house accessible, especially if your physical abilities change? (Is it a single-level home? Are the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room accessible? Is it located near hospitals, doctors, or loved ones in case of emergency?)Does the house need any safety modifications to prevent falls, such as ramps, grab bars, additional lighting, etc.?Are you able to navigate through the house safely?Will you wear a Life-Alert button in case of a fall?5. Insurance and financesWhile not always the most comfortable topic to discuss, knowing your parents financial situation is crucial when making decisions about health care and living arrangements. Meeting with a trusted financial planner is always helpful regarding financial matters. They can advise you on your financial decisions based on your income, assets, pensions, social security payments, veterans benefits, insurance, and more.Some questions to ask your aging parents about financial matters and insurance are as follows:Do you have a reliable financial planner who can advise you on financial decisions?Do you have long-term care insurance?What is your current health insurance coverage?Do you need to sign up for Medicare or Medicaid?How do you plan on paying for long-term care? (Retirement savings, pensions, social security, real estate, veterans benefits, etc.)Would assisted living be a better financial choice for you than aging in place?Do you need help managing your finances (paying bills, checking statements, making purchases etc.) from someone else, like a loved one?ConclusionIf you need more guidance navigating senior living and care for your loved ones, it is always wise to enlist the help of an expert. Florida Senior Consultings expert senior advisors can guide you through every step of the process and help your loved ones have a better quality of life as they age. Whether its aging at home or moving to a senior living community, we are here to help you through it all.Give us a call at (800) 969-7176 or visit FloridaSeniorConsulting.com to get started today!Senior living on your terms. The choice should be yours.
Winter Wellness for SeniorsBy Patrick Troumbley, MS, CSCSBalancing the 8 Pillars of Wellness for Seniors in Winter: Evidence-Based Insights Introduction As winter descends, the well-being of seniors becomes a paramount concern. Aging individuals must navigate the unique challenges that colder temperatures and reduced daylight hours bring. This article delves into the intricacies of balancing the 8 pillars of wellness for seniors during the winter season, substantiating insights with scholarly references. Physical Wellness Physical wellness, a cornerstone of senior health, demands careful attention during winter. Maintaining physical activity is essential for avoiding the adverse effects of inactivity and cold weather. A study by de Rezende et al. (2014) emphasizes the importance of regular physical activity for seniors, citing its role in reducing the risk of chronic diseases. Indoor exercises like yoga and chair exercises, as recommended by the American Heart Association (2021), offer viable options to stay active during winter. Mental Wellness The winter months often usher in feelings of isolation and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). A study by Melrose (2015) underscores the prevalence of SAD among older adults. Engaging in cognitive stimulation activities can alleviate symptoms. Seniors can find solace in local clubs, virtual classes, and community events, as advocated by Forrester (2017), who highlights the significance of social engagement in mitigating SAD symptoms. Emotional WellnessEmotional wellness hinges on effective emotional regulation. Mindfulness and relaxation techniques are integral components of emotional wellness. A systematic review by Rusch et al. (2019) supports the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions in reducing stress and anxiety. Seniors can access mindfulness resources and guidance on emotional wellness through organizations such as Seniors Blue Book Utah. Social WellnessMaintaining an active social life is pivotal for seniors. The adverse effects of social isolation on senior well-being have been extensively documented (Holt-Lunstad et al., 2015). Seniors are encouraged to participate in local clubs and community events, as promoted by Senior Expos, to foster social connections. Intellectual Wellness Intellectual wellness necessitates ongoing learning and mental stimulation. Seniors can embrace hobbies like reading and learning new languages to foster intellectual growth. A study by Verghese et al. (2003) associates intellectual engagement with a reduced risk of cognitive decline in aging individuals. Occupational Wellness Occupational wellness transcends traditional work and relates to engaging in purposeful activities. Volunteering, as explored in a study by Okun et al. (2016), offers seniors a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Seniors can explore volunteer opportunities through organizations like Seniors Blue Book Utah. Environmental Wellness Winter introduces environmental challenges, such as slippery sidewalks and heating concerns. Seniors must ensure their living environments are safe and comfortable. The National Institute on Aging (2021) provides valuable tips for creating senior-friendly environments. Spiritual Wellness Spiritual wellness revolves around finding meaning and purpose in life. Engaging in spiritual practices, such as meditation and prayer, can provide solace and inner peace. A study by Carlson et al. (2016) explores the positive effects of mindfulness-based spiritual practices on well-being. Conclusion Balancing the 8 pillars of wellness is paramount for senior well-being, especially during the winter months. Evidence-based insights emphasize the need for regular physical activity, cognitive stimulation, social engagement, and emotional regulation. Seniors can access resources and information from reputable organizations like Seniors Blue Book Utah and Senior Expos to aid in their pursuit of wellness. By integrating these scholarly insights into their winter routines, seniors can not only survive but thrive during this season, enjoying a life marked by health, happiness, and purpose. References: American Heart Association. (2021). Recommendations for Physical Activity in Older Adults. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-older-adults Carlson, L. E., et al. (2016). Mindfulness-based interventions for coping with cancer. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1373(1), 5-12.de Rezende, L. F. M., et al. (2014). Physical activity and preventable premature deaths from non-communicable diseases in Brazil. Journal of Public Health, 36(3), 514-522. Forrester, A. (2017). Seasonal affective disorder in older adults: improving mood and well-being through leisure interventions. Activities, Adaptation & Aging, 41(1), 39-53. Holt-Lunstad, J., et al. (2015). Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: A meta-analytic review. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(2), 227-237.Melrose, S. (2015). Seasonal affective disorder: An overview of assessment and treatment approaches. Depression Research and Treatment, 2015, 1-6.National Institute on Aging. (2021). Winter Safety Tips for Older Adults. https://www.nia.nih.gov/news/infographics/winter-safety-tips-older-adults Okun, M. A., et al. (2016). Volunteering by older adults and risk of mortality: A meta-analysis. Psychology and Aging, 31(6), 634-645. Rusch, H. L., et al. (2019). A randomized controlled trial of the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on posttraumatic growth among survivors of interpersonal violence. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 32(6), 936-946. Verghese, J., et al. (2003). Leisure activities and the risk of dementia in the elderly. New England Journal of Medicine, 348(25), 2508-2516.Patrick Troumbley, MS, CSCS