It’s a situation more and more adult children have to face every year: finding care for a senior parent, especially when the parent lives in a different town or state. With more than 40 million Americans collecting Social Security checks, loved ones are evaluating assisted living programs and how to make independent living for seniors possible.
Life expectancy is just short of 80 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and older seniors often face increasing health issues, which require them to have some sort of living assistance.
Susan Imes of Ashland, Ken. recently learned how becoming a caregiver meant understanding her mother’s independence and history.
“Last year, when she lived alone, she fell in the middle of the night and broke her back,” Imes says. “She lay on the floor all night long. Now that she lives with me, and has fallen in her room, I’ve come to realize: she will not call out for help. She’s lived alone for 25 years, and she’s just not used to asking for help.”
The average cost of assisted living is $200 a day, and 86 percent of caregivers say that caregiving impacts their work situations, according to caring.com. For adult children living a state away, or even on the other side of the country, finding ways to keep mom or dad at home safely requires different options.
Many caregivers have their parents live with them, to help save costs and to keep a better eye on their safety. But that doesn’t help when the caregiver is away for work, running errands or even sleeping.
“She gets confused at night, and doesn’t want to bother anybody,” Imes says about her mom. “She can be surrounded by phones, wearing a pendant, and she’ll just lay there until somebody finds her.”
Installing an alert program like BeClose allows seniors to stay independent, but also connected. A remote caregiver can view information about activity happening in the home on a private website or set up custom notifications to send alerts to mobile devices and email should anything be out of the ordinary. This wireless and hands-free system detects if someone were to fall in the home, for example. It doesn’t require the person to be conscious or push a button to receive help and sends an alert to the caregiver. In fact, in 80 percent of senior falls where the person was found helpless in their home, the person did not use their call alarm to summon help, according to J. Flemming and C. Brayne in “Inability to get up after falling, subsequent time on floor, and summoning help: prospective cohort study in people over 90.” Visit www.beclose.com for more information.
Even for seniors who aren’t very mobile, it’s not difficult for a caregiver to establish a public support system. For example, caregivers can connect with neighbors about keeping an eye on movement in the house (i.e. window curtains opening in the mornings and closing in the evenings), or the mail delivery service about mail being removed from the box each day. Establishing these connections can help ensure a senior’s safety.
Finally, one of the biggest safety concerns for seniors living alone at home is tripping and falling. Cluttered homes are not good for aging in place. Caregivers can work with their parent to remove tripping hazards and install safety guards like handrails to help keep the parent safer.
Imes says it’s hard to watch her mom suffer from dementia, but is less worried about her mom’s safety now that she’s using an alert program and can keep an eye on her mom while at work.
“I wish I’d gotten BeClose at my mom’s place five years ago,” Imes says. “I wouldn’t have had to make as many phone calls, or had to go over and check on her at lunch when she left her phone off the hook. I could’ve just gone online when I was at work. And she wouldn’t have fallen and laid on the floor all night, because I would have gotten an alert to tell me that she wasn’t back in bed.”