Holiday Gift Ideas for Elderly Loved Ones

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With the holiday season underway, it can be a challenge to come up with creative and meaningful gifts for our loved ones. We understand that it can be difficult to choose a meaningful gift for an elderly family member. Our team has put together a gift-giving guide to help with your holiday shopping.

Considering the Needs of Elderly Family Members

The holidays offer the perfect season for gathering and creating memories together. However, if someone is affected by health problems, then this time of year can be a challenge for everyone involved. Whether your loved one is suffering from dementia or another health concern, choose gifts that are appropriate for their circumstances.

Small gifts might be the right solution to help the person simplify life at home. Or, look for options to offer entertainment or comfort.

Gift Ideas for Older Adults

Here are some of the most popular gifts for seniors this year:

  • Digital Photo Frame: Upload photos of the family, including children and grandchildren. Don’t forget to include photos of friends and neighbors. These digital photos can rotate in the frame to show the person the familiar faces of loved ones. Another option is to design a traditional photo album if the digital movement is difficult for the person to watch.
  • Walking Shoes: Good, supportive shoes are important to ensure comfort and safety. The right pair of shoes can help the senior maintain an active lifestyle.
  • Weighted Blanket: Not only does this blanket offer warmth, but it also gives the feeling of being cuddled or hugged. A blanket, such as My Calm Blanket uses Deep Touch Pressure Stimulation to help with the regulation of mood and improve relaxation.
  • Tickets: Spending time together is a great gift. Consider purchasing tickets to a movie, symphony or play.
  • Music: Sound can be stimulating and comforting, especially if the person is feeling lonely. Choose a CD or create a custom playlist of the person’s favorite artists.
  • Magazine Subscription: Ongoing entertainment and reading that is delivered to the mailbox each month. Find a genre to match a person’s interests and hobbies.
  • Stationery: Nothing beats a hand-written note from a loved one. Gift a nice set of stationary or cards. Don’t forget to include the stamps!
  • Custom Calendar: Design a personalized calendar with photos of the family. Include all of the important dates that need to be remembered, including anniversaries, birthdays, and more.

Feel free to contact us at Windward Life Care if you have questions about resources that are available to support the needs of your loved one.

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Technology for Living Independently and With Dignity at Home

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The great majority of older adults have a strong desire to live in their own homes and communities; but many adaptations need to be made in our homes to accommodate this. Technology is one piece that empowers older adults to live in their homes with dignity.

Technology has been challenging for many mature adults to comprehend and use; first it was computers, then came smartphones, both of which required investments to own and skills to use. With the advent of voice enabled technologies and AI software (artificial intelligence), access and interaction with technology has never been friendlier. Voice assistants like the Amazon Echo or Google Home which start to retail at $49, users can in their own native language interact with a whole slew of services and hardware products which earlier could only be accessed using a computer or a smartphone.

Increasingly, the ground zero of senior well-being is now shifting to their lifestyles at home; sensors are becoming more context driven, data captured and analyzed by non-intrusive sensors and wearable devices help us predict potential health situations and challenges ahead of time moving us to the realm of predictive healthcare.

Here are the many ways that technology enables us to interact with our homes to enhance our well-being and lifestyle:

Comfort and Convenience
Control lighting switches, thermostat temperature and your entertainment system with voice commands.

Security & Safety
Routine activities and social support are especially suited for elders suffering cognitive decline. These systems detect changes in patients location or environment and provide verbal assistance as needed, or if needed, notify caregivers.

Isolation and Loneliness
Using voice assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home to communicate with family friends and caregivers, staying informed, ordering supplies, booking transportation, conducting basic banking, restaurant delivery services.

Monitoring & Predictive Health
Smart sensors for monitoring activity and behavior; which serve as advance warning systems for potential health challenges.
Video devices for security.
Video cameras with AI for facial recognition, automated door locks for locking, video doorbells managing visitors without getting to the front door.

Wearables for Health Analytics
Health monitoring systems to monitor blood pressure, pulse, and movement of the patient as well as environmental data, such as ambient temperature.

Fall Protection and Management
Sensors that can detect a fall both inside and outside the home and notify emergency services and caregivers in real time.

Lighting for Well-being
LED circadian rhythm lighting for normal sleep patterns, and creating a positive environment.

Going Forward
The next phase of technology for seniors is being designed using Ambient intelligence; which combines AI (artificial intelligence) and IoT (internet connected devices), will provide real-time monitoring of an environment and event-driven response to changes in that environment. Sensors designed to detect changes in sound, motion, physiological signals, as well as more generalized image processing are core components of an ambient intelligent environment.

About Smaart House

Smaart House is a San Diego based technology provider for senior care, our purpose is to empower mature adults to live independently and with dignity in their home environment and communities. We work with individual homeowners, senior care communities and assisted living facilities to integrate and adapt technology in their environments. Please visit us at www.smaart.house for more information.

The author Bijou Lulla is the Founder and CEO of Smaart House, he can be reached at [email protected].

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Aging Life Care Manager Helps “Bill” to Age Well

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Windward’s Aging Life Care Managers help clients to make positive life changes that result in better health and quality of life. Here is one example of a client, “Bill,” whom Care Manager Heather Arsenault has had the honor to work with for the past year and a half.

Bill was referred to Windward Life Care® by his estate planning attorney. Bill has required help most of his life due to the effects of a brain aneurysm he suffered as a teenager. After a lengthy recovery, Bill was able to go back to school and graduated in the mid-1960’s. He worked on and off, including several years as a cashier at a local convenience store. Bill is now 73. He has a heart of gold and loves a good conversation.

One of the challenges Bill has faced in his life is social isolation. To help with companionship and incorporating meaningful activity into Bill’s life, Heather introduced a home care aide, Zahrina. With the dependable structure that a daily home care aide provides, Bill now fills his days with activities that further his physical and mental health and bring joy to his life.

Each morning Bill and Zahrina play Windward Life Care’s “Memory Match Game” with cards that have personal photos of people, pets, and places in his life. Other activities they enjoy are: going to Padres games, walking at Seaport Village, walking at Spanish Landing, and eating out. Bill has a personal trainer and a therapist who both come to the house weekly. Heather also worked with Bill’s Power of Attorney to get him started in swim therapy classes this summer. As a teenager, Bill was an avid swimmer so he was excited to return to this favorite pastime.

Aging Life Care® Manager Heather Arsenault visits Bill monthly at his home, or out at one of Bill’s favorite restaurants.  Heather has weekly contact with Zahrina to share information and ideas for helping Bill. Heather determined that Bill would benefit from safety upgrades at his home. She arranged for a company to initiate bathroom improvements, upgrade flooring, and remove floor rugs to make his environment safer.

Heather has also facilitated Bill’s visits with his health care providers to ensure that his chronic conditions are well-managed and that crises are averted.

Bill’s consistent routine including in-home caregivers, engaging activities, and taking steps toward a healthy lifestyle have led to an “aging well” story.

 

Windward Life Care’s interdisciplinary team of Aging Life Care® Managers has certification and professional training in a number of areas related to healthy aging, including nursing, geriatric care management, and social work. If you would like us to create a personalized plan for yourself or someone you care about, please contact us at (619) 450-4300 or [email protected] lifecare.com.

*Out of respect of our clients’ privacy, some names have been altered. 

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Healthy Aging Conference Presented by the Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center at the Fairbanks Ranch Country Club

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Windward Life Care is proud to be a Bronze Sponsor for the Annual Healthy Aging Conference presented by the Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center.

The event will take place at the beautiful Fairbanks Ranch Country Club on April 27.

 

You can find the details here on the Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center website.

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Making the Most of the Holidays When a Loved One has Dementia by Lisa Mayfield and ALCA

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Celebrating the Holidays with Dementia

by Lisa Mayfield, MA, LMHC, GMHS, CMC, Principal, Fellow Certified Care Manager

The holidays can often be a time filled with high expectations, requiring lots of energy and engagement in non-stop activities. For the individuals and families living with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, it can be challenging and a time of high anxiety. Festivities can agitate, confuse, and overstimulate persons living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Meanwhile, caregivers can feel anxious, frustrated, and lonely.

To minimize the anxiety and encourage a happy holiday season for the entire family, a little advanced thought and planning can go a long way in ensuring everyone has a wonderful time. Remembering that the holidays, at their best, are a time for enjoying one another’s company and sharing gratitude for each other can make some advanced planning go a long way.

Here are some stress busters that have worked for other families and might prove successful for your celebrations:

  1. Let guests know what to expect before they arrive. If your loved one is in the early stages of dementia, it’s likely family and friends won’t notice any changes. The person with middle or late-stage dementia may have trouble following conversation or tend to repeat him- or herself. Family can help with communication by being patient, not interrupting or correcting, and giving the person time to finish his or her thoughts. Make sure visitors understand that changes in behavior and memory are caused by the disability and not the person. Understanding, acceptance and patience go a long way.
  2. Adjust expectations. The challenges of caregiving responsibilities combined with holiday expectations can take a toll. Invite family and friends to a conversation ahead of time. Be honest about any limitations or needs, such as keeping a daily routine, or making modifications to plans to minimize holiday stress. The goal here is time together. Your loved one will enjoy the company of friends and family. Let their presence be their present!
  3. Be good to YOU! This is often the hardest step. But giving yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage is one of the most precious gifts you can give yourself. If you’ve always had a large group at your home, consider having only a few guests for a simple meal. Let others participate by having a potluck dinner or ask them to host at their home. This is the time to be especially gentle and kind with yourself. This is also a great time to practice saying “No” and pace yourself.
  4. Involve the person with dementia. Focus on activities, traditions and memories that are meaningful to the person with dementia. Your family member may find comfort in singing old holiday songs or looking through old photo albums. Involve the person in holiday preparation. As abilities allow, invite him or her to help you decorate, prepare food, set the table, wrap packages, or address holiday cards.
  5. Maintain a normal routine. Sticking to the person’s normal routine will help keep the holidays from becoming overly stressful or confusing. Plan time for breaks and rest. Make sure to have favorites at the ready: holiday music, movies, clothing, and food. All these familiar favorites can bring comfort and build enjoyment into a holiday celebration.
  6. Use the buddy system. Plan ahead to have family and friends take turns being the buddy to your loved one. This is a great way to encourage one-on-one time as well as to shield the individual with dementia from distress. It also gives a break to the primary caregiver.
  7. Engage an Aging Life Care Professional®. Aging Life Care Professionals are the experts in aging well.  We understand dementia, aging, family systems, and the myriad of challenges and obstacles that families experience in caring for a loved one.  An Aging Life Care expert can help anticipate issues and address them before they happen, offering the options and wise counsel on how to navigate the holidays successfully. Our focus is on the well-being of the older adults in your life, while also helping you to care for yourself.  By engaging an Aging Life Care professional, you are working with someone who takes a holistic, client-centered approach to caring for older adults. Visit the Aging Life Care Association website to locate an expert near you.

By setting realistic expectations, involving others, maintaining a routine, and keeping activities and traditions to a select few, you can ensure yourself, your loved one, and family and friends a low stress, memorable, and successful holiday season.

Author Lisa Mayfield, MA, LMHC, GMHS, CMC, Principal, Fellow Certified Care Manager, founded Aging Wisdom® in 2003, recognizing early in her career that problem-solving and thoughtful, personalized care management were what most people needed, not therapy, to address the challenges and concerns of aging. When she discovered the Aging Life Care profession (AKA geriatric care management), she immersed her herself fully in the profession, and Aging Wisdom was born.

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Finding Purpose Later in Life through Volunteer Work

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Maintaining a strong sense of community is important at all stages of life, especially during retirement. But, many people find that they feel disconnected when they have an empty nest at home, and they are no longer interacting with peers in the workplace. If you are retired and looking for ways to connect with your community, then you might consider the benefits of volunteer work.

Community Volunteering Helps with Cognitive Engagement

Cognitive engagement during retirement is essential to support your mental and physical health. It has been found that volunteerism contributes to a sense of purpose, which is critical for people during this transitional time in life. Keep your mind healthy and active, and you will be able to get more satisfaction from the activities that you enjoy.

Often, people find fulfillment in their families and career activities. When they approach retirement age, they don’t know what to do when they no longer have these activities to fill their time. So, this is the perfect time of life to step into community volunteering opportunities.

Physical Health Improves through Volunteering

A recent study found that people who participate in volunteering experience better health. These activities contribute to a greater sense of purpose, which in turn improves decisions regarding the use of preventive health care. Not only are you helping other people, but you will also be helping yourself at the same time!

People who volunteer have lower mortality rates, a reduced risk of depression, and improved functional ability later in life. Every year researchers are identifying more reasons why retirees should be actively engaged in volunteering.

Volunteering Opportunities in San Diego

If you live in San Diego, then there are many opportunities in the local area if you are interested in volunteer work.  Take a look at this resource through the County of San Diego with details about volunteer programs available for retirees.

Another option is to talk to our team here at Windward Life Care. Our goal is to support your physical and mental health in the ways that best meet your needs. Contact us to learn more about the services that are available.

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