From personal devices to medication management systems to meal delivery, check out our suggestions for senior-friendly products to put on your holiday shopping list.
Whether your senior parents are aging in place or reside in a senior community, helping them continue to feel independent and empowered is one of the greatest gifts you can provide as a caregiver. The challenges presented by older age are inevitable, but they don’t have to be discouraging. Physical, mental and metabolic changes might seem a bit alarming when they begin to affect day-to-day living, but they also offer Mom and Dad the opportunity to slow down a little and take life at a different pace.
Slowing down doesn’t mean stopping, of course. Nowadays more than ever, caregivers can take advantage of cutting-edge products, devices, and services that make seniors’ lives easier and increase their ability to live independently and happily. We’ve surveyed A Place for Mom readers and partners, as well as scouring senior-care industry publications, and come up with a list of 5 standout products from 2013 that make life easier for seniors and caregivers. If you’re still figuring out your Christmas gift list this year, take a gander at these items for your older loved ones.
Though we might not enjoy thinking about it, the reality is all too common—as our loved ones age, they may have trouble with incontinence. Fortunately, incontinence products have moved out of the realm of “adult diapers” and into the modern era, meaning more options, more discretion, and less need to feel self-conscious.
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“With 10,000 boomers turning 65 every day–for the next 20 years–the manufacturers have stepped up the development of products that will not only protect better, but also provide greater normalcy and dignity,” says Lynn Wilson, Founder of the CareGiver Partnership. “The products will get thinner, more comfortable and look and feel more like cotton underwear.” Items like Depend Silhouettes for Women, Depend Real Fit for Men, and Boxes by Prevail have been top sellers on their website all year, Wilson says. “It’s nearly impossible to tell that these are disposable underwear.”
One of the items mentioned most often by A Place for Mom readers on our Facebook page was the electronic, programmable pill organizer for medication management. Says Joanne L., “I had a pill dispenser that would beep and open up, to release the pills of the day, then would close. It would hold several weeks’ worth. Loved it!” There are several different options available, ranging from simple and inexpensive versions like the Med-E-Lert Automatic Pill Dispenser with Alarm to more comprehensive systems like the MD.2 Medication Management System, which not only provides dosage reminders but also includes prescription directions and an optional monitoring service that alerts caregivers if a dose is missed. HomeCare Magazine recommends the TabSafe system, which contains a memory chip that’s backed up to a personal health website, keeping track of each individual’s prescription data, scheduling, and compliance.
Emergency alert and response systems have really progressed since the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” days. This year, we’ve seen emergency alert devices get smaller and easier to carry, and as mobile technologies like GPS and Bluetooth get more ubiquitous, their powers are being harnessed in the service of senior safety. One of the products that caught our eye this year is the Securus eCare Mobile Medical Alert System with GPS Tracking, which doesn’t require a landline phone connection. For a monthly fee, it relies on cellular coverage and puts a 24/7 emergency response center in the palm of your loved one’s hand, wherever they may roam. Of course, there’s also a wide range of in-home systems for those not interested in paying monthly charges—items like the Help At Hand Emergency Telephone Dialer and the LifeControl Emergency Alert System are just two examples, and many others are listed on the Technology for Long-Term Care website.
Meal delivery services have been proven to help keep seniors independent and help them age in place, according to a 2012 Brown University study. Not only is the gift of lovingly prepared food a wonderful boon to seniors who may not want, or be able to, cook regularly for themselves, it’s also an important weapon in fighting the pernicious problem of senior malnutrition. Says Lynn Wilson of the CareGiver Partnership, “A great solution for those who can’t get out to shop or get around to cook is Mom’s Meals–these are freshly prepared, home-delivered meals. There are about 45 different varieties.”
Meals on Wheels is a familiar name to many of us, and they, too, help seniors with mobility issues fulfill their nutritional needs. These services have shown time and again that they are an invaluable tool for keeping seniors eating well: in a 2011 U.S. Administration on Aging survey, 83 percent of clients reported that Meals on Wheels helps them eat healthier.
When we asked A Place for Mom readers about what products most helped them as caregivers this year, many of the responses centered on technology—specifically, devices that helped them and their loved ones keep in touch, while still being simple and senior-friendly enough for older adults to use easily. Touch-screen technology is making computer use a lot less intimidating for people of all ages, so it’s no surprise that several readers named the iPad as their favorite device. “I’ve been able to keep my mom connected to friends and family through e-mail and social media and entertained with fun videos on the internet,” says Beverly S.
Reader Dawn M. suggests the HP Presto printer, which “prints out emails to our parents without them knowing how to use the computer. Great way for us to send them written reminders, photos, and messages.” Family-friendly computer systems like the GrandCare System and Telikin provide an easy touchscreen format for email, video chat, and other useful functions.
What helpful products for senior loved ones are on your wish list this year? Let us know in the comments.