States React to AARP Scorecard

Much has been made of AARP’s released report 2014 State Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) Scorecard. In fact, I covered the results in a recent blog.

Since the report’s release, state politicians and policy makers have been scrambling to either issue statements strongly urging for their state’s commitment to long term care improvement or stridently patting themselves on the back for a job well done.

Louisiana’s Times-Picayune article on nola.com about its senior population being over-institutionalized. Louisiana ranked 37th of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. in its overall long-term care policies. In that state, aging seniors are (predominantly) either placed in nursing homes or cared for at home by unpaid family members. And it ranked dead-last in effective transitions—meaning that a high number of nursing home residents are hospitalized because they’re not receiving the care they need. Funny, the same report found that there are a high number of nursing home residents with low-care needs. No doubt it is because of the lack of alternatives such as adult day care and other home and community-based services.

Not surprisingly, vociferous Louisiana AARP advocates call for increased funding of alternate care choices in an attempt to acquiesce to the majority of older Louisiana residents who wish to age in place, at home. Ironically, despite the article pointing to so many calls-to-action, they conclude optimistically, pointing out that “Louisiana's ranking in 2014 improved slightly from the 43rd slot, when scorecard was last issued in 2011.”

On the flip-side, Minnesota’s Office of the Governor Mark Dayton was quick to issue a press release extolling their number one spot on the scorecard for long term care access, choice, quality, and caregiver support. The release also pointed out that Minnesota ranked in first place on the 2011 Scorecard as well.

In the release, Gov. Dayton cited the following efforts that assist Minnesotans in “providing our parents, grandparents, and people with disabilities the best possible care.”

  • New incentives for providers to increase quality
  • More help for people who want to move from nursing homes and other congregate settings to homes of their own
  • More comprehensive information and referral services for individuals and family caregivers
  • Support for core community services that help people stay in their homes
  • More flexibility for consumers in choosing supports tailored to their needs
  • Promotion of competitive employment for people with disabilities
  • A stronger adult protection system; and
  • Own Your Future, an initiative that encourages Minnesotans to plan for their long-term care and is now exploring new ways Minnesotans can finance this care.


We at Caregiverlist® not only care for the caregiver, we advocate for seniors and their families. I hope that the Long-Term Care Scorecard elicits more than one-upmanship between states. It’s a great opportunity to see where your own system may be lacking and examine and adapt those state policies and approaches to long term senior care that appear to be working best.

Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia: What's the Difference?

It happens almost imperceptibly — a misplaced wallet, a forgotten word or name, short-term memory loss. These incidents can be normal blips in memory, but sometimes they can be indications of a more serious cognitive degeneration. The fear of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease can keep a person in the state of denial. In fact, new figures show half of those who are diagnosed with dementia waited at least six months before seeing their doctor.

The Alzheimer’s Association says that of more than 6000 people surveyed, nearly a quarter of list Alzheimer’s disease as the second most frightening condition they most fear getting, behind cancer. More than 80% believe that the disease is a normal part of aging, and nearly 40% of people believed that only those with a family history of the disease could be affected.

But Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging. It's a disease that causes brain cells to malfunction and ultimately die. Neurons are the chief type of cell destroyed by Alzheimer's disease. That causes memory changes, erratic behaviors and loss of body functions. It’s a sad fact that Alzheimer’s has no survivors. The disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. The Alzheimer’s Association is asking everyone affected by the disease to show their commitment to the cause by wearing purple and posting to social media sites like Facebook. As they say on their website, “Everyone who has a brain is at risk to develop Alzheimer's—but everyone can help to fight it.”

A number of celebrities have banded together to support Alzheimer’s awareness. Recently, actor and Alzheimer’s activist Seth Rogan spoke to congress about the need to allocate more funding to research and eradicate the disease that strikes so many, including his mother-in-law.

BradleyCooper

Bradley Cooper proudly promotes purple to #ENDALZ.

All Alzheimer’s disease is dementia but not all dementia is Alzheimer’s. Dementia is an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms. Although Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, there are a variety of other dementia types. These include Vascular dementia, or post-stroke dementia, which accounts for about 10% of all dementia cases. Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) sufferers are more likely than people with Alzheimer's to have early symptoms such as visual hallucinations and muscle rigidity. Parkinson's disease, frontotemporal dementia, normal pressure hydrocephalus are also types of dementia. Some of these diseases are treatable. Unfortunately, no cure or treatment slows or stops some of these progressive dementia diseases, like Alzheimer’s. But there are drug treatments that may temporarily improve symptoms.

Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) is often, but not always, a precursor to dementia. If you’ve been diagnosed with MCI, or are caring for a senior with Mild Cognitive Impairment, there’s a lot you can do to ease the ease and reduce the signs of MCI. For example, it’s been found that, coupled with a healthy diet, regular exercise can have a very positive impact on the brain and cognitive function.

Caregiverlist® urges if you are a senior caregiver whose family member or client presents any symptoms of memory loss, to seek the counsel of a doctor. Early detection is key in order to benefit from treatment and to plan for the future. Some dementia disorders are treatable — such as depression, drug interactions, thyroid problems, excess use of alcohol or certain metabolic disorders, such as a vitamin B12 deficiency .

If you or your beloved senior has Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, share your story with the world. Reach out to us on Twitter @Caregiverlist and don't forget to use #gopurple and #endalz to join the conversation. It’s time we destigmafy Alzheimer’s and other memory loss diseases.

Long Term Care Scorecard: Best and Worst States

When I was a kid, Florida and Arizona were the retirement states of choice. My parents and their friends decided that, after decades of Midwestern winters, the promise of warmth and sunshine, coupled with the notion of never picking up a snow shovel again proved too enticing to pass up. At their first opportunity, many of the “snowbirds” declared permanent residency in those sunshine states. Did they make the wrong move?

This week, AARP in conjunction with the Commonwealth Fund and the SCAN Foundation, released the 2014 State Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) Scorecard. In it, they rate states based on long-term services and support for the elderly, people with physical disabilities, and family caregivers. State performance was measured across five categories:

  • affordability and access,
  • choice of setting and provider,
  • quality of life and quality of care,
  • support for family caregivers, and
  • effective transitions

The report shows that in terms of quality of long-term care, Florida ranks in the bottom quartile compared to other states, although it fares better than Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee in affordability and transitions from nursing home care back to the community. This interactive map shows each state’s ranking:

The top-ranking states for long-term care and services are Minnesota, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Alaska; perhaps it’s not quite time to put those snow shovels on eBay.

It’s a well-known fact that few of us prepare for long-term care, although about 70% of people age 65 and up will need some sort of assistance with the activities of daily living. While most people would prefer to age at home, Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of home care provided by a Home Care Agency. Few of those in their 40s, 50s and 60s carry long-term care insurance and Medicaid is available only for low-income seniors with few assets. And before we all decide to retire to Minnesota or Washington, it’s important to note that long-term care is unaffordable for most middle-income seniors in all states.

The authors of the study see the need for a guide at the federal level to establish minimum long-term care performance standards below which no state should fall. No one anywhere in the U.S. should fear that their state cannot provide the needed level of assistance. Susan Reinhard, one of the study’s authors and senior vice president of Public Policy at AARP told Forbes magazine that she is optimistic in the incremental improvements she’s seen since a similar study was published in 2011, but admits all states can do better.

Caregiverlist® champions the need for change in the long-term care arena and urges you to contact your state legislature or your state’s Department on Aging and let them know how important it is to improve services in providing high-quality, well-coordinated, affordable long-term care.

Seniors Need Protection from Nursing Home Abuse

It’s a story I hate to write or even read, but sticking my head in the sand will not make the problem go away. And because June 15 was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), I thought it would make sense to talk about the issue today.

Elder abuse takes many forms; physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse unfortunately affects hundreds of thousands of seniors each year. Nursing home residents are especially vulnerable.

Back in February 2014, a Bronx New York nursing home employee was charged with raping an elderly resident who is unable to communicate. Manhattanville Health Care Center LLC had a Medicare overall rating of 5 stars, whereas, because of its number of reported bedsores and its low C.N.A.-staff-to-resident ratio, the facility’s Caregiverlist’s® Nursing Home Star Rating was a mere 3 stars.

Recently, a Florida nursing home CNA's father received a 7-year sentence in an identity theft case, where he used stolen identification information to file fake tax returns and get refunds, according to an article in McKinght Long Term Care News. Palm Garden in Polk County, Florida, also received only a 3-star Caregiverlist® Nursing Home Rating.

An evaluation published in the Journal of Elder Abuse and neglect details a seven state Criminal History Screening (CHS) program for long-term care workers. The report states that popular support for enhanced criminal history screening (CHS) procedures for long-term care workers in the United States is evident; case studies and news stories regarding abuse, theft, or neglect of long-term care residents are abundant yet repugnant to a society that aims to protect those that are physically and/or mentally frail.

Results of the evaluation found that, of the 204,339 completed screenings, 3.7% were disqualified due to criminal history, and 18.8% were withdrawn prior to completion for reasons that may include relevant criminal history.

The federally-funded pilot program points to a vital need to conduct thorough background checks for any potential senior caregivers, whether they be in an institutional or home setting.

The Administration on Aging has provided these tell-tale signs that a senior may be suffering elder abuse or neglect:

  • Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.
  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.
  • Bruises around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse.
  • Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation.
  • Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss are indicators of possible neglect.
  • Behavior such as belittling, threats, and other uses of power and control by spouses are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.
  • Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person are also signs.

Most importantly, be alert. The suffering is often in silence. If you notice changes in a senior’s personality or behavior, you should start to question what is going on.

President Barack Obama, in his 2012 presidential proclamation decreed June 15 as World Abuse Awareness Day stating, “Every American deserves the chance to live out the full measure of their days in health and security. Yet, every year, millions of older Americans are denied that most basic opportunity due to abuse, neglect, or exploitation. On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we call attention to this global public health issue, and we rededicate ourselves to providing our elders the care and protection they deserve.”

If you are a caregiver, consider taking Caregiverlist’s® Caregiver Training Course. With it, you can learn the types of abuse and neglect, legal requirements for reporting (and legal punishments for not reporting) and how to protect your senior client and yourself from physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse.

Senior Driving Safety

School’s out and that means a whole slew of new teen drivers will be on the road. While the thought of a 16-year-old behind the wheel makes me nervous, senior drivers who have not recently evaluated their driving skills can also make me run for cover.

June is National Safety Month and the National Safety Council has designated this year’s theme as "Safety: It takes all of us," and was inspired by the idea of continuous risk reduction. The Council’s emphasis this year is on putting an end to distracted driving but I think its a great time to revisit the challenges facing the mature driver.

It’s been written that “Adult children would rather talk to parents about funeral plans than about taking away the car keys.” It’s a difficult conversation—many seniors associate driving with independence (that they don’t want to relinquish.) For the adult children of driving seniors, revoking that driving privilege can mean picking up the slack and becoming chauffeur to mom or dad, at least until Google’s self-driving car becomes available.

So how do you know if it’s time to take away the keys, or are there steps to ensure the senior can hang on to those keys just a little longer?

Caregiverlist® provides our own Safe Driving Checklist. We’ve provided some basic red-flags that might mean it’s time to reexamine a senior's on-road capabilities. These include:

  • Vision: Is the senior able to pass a vision test? (Cataracts, Glaucoma and Macular Degeneration can all impact vision quality).
  • Are there any unexplained dents in the paint of the car or on the garage?
  • Does the senior allow others to ride in the car with them when they are driving?
  • Does the senior seem nervous or extra anxious when driving? Does the senior take alternate routes to avoid major highways?
  • Does the senior fail to stop at red lights or stop signs?
  • Are speed limits obeyed (Not driving too slow or too fast)?
  • Have neighbors or others who see the senior driving (anyone who also attends a regular event they may drive to) observed anything unsafe? 

Also, talk to their physician to see if any of their medications can affect their driving ability.

If the above are not at issue and your senior is feels relatively safe to drive, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor vehicles suggests some self-imposed limitations which may include driving only during daylight hours, staying home when weather conditions are poor, avoiding rush hour, and driving less.

AAA, the leader in driver safety, offers many online tools to evaluate and improve senior driving skills. They also suggest taking driver improvement courses. These can teach older drivers how to adjust for slower reflexes, weaker vision and other changes. Taking and passing a comprehensive driving improvement course can result in potential discounts on insurance premiums.

It’s important that seniors realize the risks associated with accidents. Statistics say drivers age 85 and older are injured or killed in crashes at a higher rate than any other age group. This is due primarily to increased fragility that comes with age. Older senior drivers are generally less able to withstand the forces of a crash, so they are more likely to become injured.

Effective September 30, 2010, drivers 75 years of age or older can only renew a driver's license at an DMV branch or AAA office. The operator must either pass a vision test or present a completed Vision Screening Certificate. If you need to contact your local DMV, check out Caregiverlist’s® Department of Motor Vehicles by State list.

Louisiana Nursing Homes Rank Lowest in Nation, Report Says

Nursing homes in Louisiana are rated at or near the bottom in terms of quality of care compared to the rest of the nation, according to a recent state legislative report. The report is the result of an audit of utilization, cost, and quality of care in Medicaid nursing facilities as Louisiana considers privatizing its Medicaid long-term care program and votes on whether to lock-in nursing home prices.

The Louisiana Legislative Audit concluded that, while the number of nursing home residents decreased from 26,563 in July 2011 to 25,335 in November 2013, according data from the U. S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Louisiana is “far from the benchmark” for several quality of care indicators.

Long-stay nursing home residents in Louisiana have a higher incidence of pressure sores, increased depression or anxiety, are more likely to be physically restrained, and spend more time in bed or in a chair compared to the national nursing home average.

Caregiverlist® Nursing Home Star Ratings lists Louisiana’s average star rating at 2.5, with only 1 out of 303 nursing homes receiving a 5-star rating. Compare that to neighboring Arkansas whose nursing homes have an average 3.0 rating with 17 of its 268 nursing homes earning a 5-star rating, or Mississippi, whose average 2.8 rating includes 5 of its 225 nursing homes in the 5-star category.

Cited nursing home deficiencies, however, were predominantly for violations categorized as “no actual harm with potential for more than minimal harm.” These included:

  • Failure to implement care plan interventions, such as oral care, reporting skin changes to nurses, or providing showers according to plan of care. Failure to reassess the care plan and include the resident and/or their family in this process.
  • Failure to ensure wheelchairs have footrests or securing dangerous chemicals in the shower rooms.
  • Failure to develop a care plan to address pressure ulcers, hospice care, or foot care for diabetic residents.
  • Failure to conduct an accurate initial or ongoing assessment of resident's activities of daily living, dental problems, or transfer needs.

Prepared by legislative auditor’s staff using January 2014 Nursing Home Compare data and information provided by DHH.

In response, Associated Press’s Melinda Deslatte writes: Joe Donchess, executive director of the Louisiana Nursing Home Association, said Monday that the facilities in Louisiana and other nearby states are graded at a harsher standard by federal officials than similar facilities in other Medicaid regions. "We provide a high quality of care to the residents. The residents are happy and safe," he said. Donchess said the reviews don't take into consideration the conditions that patients have when they enter nursing homes. He said there's no way to judge that because the state doesn't monitor home- and community-based care programs for the elderly. He said if the programs don't provide quality care, nursing homes receive residents "in a weaker condition." The Louisiana Legislative Auditor plans future reports that will examine home and community-based services.

However, quality nursing home care can be found in Louisiana, especially according to Patrick D. McCarthy, a Lafayette CPA who, in a letter to the Advocate, writes about Southwest Louisiana Veterans’ Home in Jennings. “...An incomparable staff of qualified, caring personnel, delivers service with efficiency, professionalism and competency but, most importantly, with genuine affection and good humor. I am so sick of Louisiana being categorized at the bottom of most important lists. Truly we have a gem in Jennings. I invite you to visit. I guarantee that your chest will swell with pride for what we, Louisiana citizens, have at SLVH.”

Because many of us (or our senior loved-ones) may find themselves needing to choose nursing home care, it's up to us to do the due diligence and choose nursing home care wisely. Caregiverlist® provides a Nursing Home Checklist that can help you choose the right nursing home. 

Are Brain Games Vital to Great Senior Care?

Whenever my older sister misplaced things, or forgot a word or phrase, or walked into a room and couldn’t recollect why, she was fond of saying that she was having a “senior moment.” While it’s true that memory and processing speed can be challenged as we age, there are some aspects of the cognitive mind that are sharper in the elderly than in the young. Older people have a depth and breadth of knowledge and experience from which to draw. Decision-making processes can be stronger and certainly, the elderly probably have better language skills than their younger counterparts. But, as with the rest of the body, the mind should exercise or face possible atrophy.

According to Marbles, the Brain Store, the brain is malleable and can continue to create more neurons and neuronal connections, even older adults can exercise their brains and improve areas that they may not be as sharp in. SharpBrains, an independent research and advisory company on brain fitness, concurs. Cofounder and CEO Alvaro Fernandez states in an article on Social Work Today, that brain fitness is becoming a standard in older adult residential facilities, with more than 700 facilities in the United States alone installing computerized cognitive training programs since 2007.

Although I love computers, I wanted to find some good old-fashioned offline games to help increase brain strength. With that in mind (pun intended), I’ve enlisted the help of my local Marbles to give caregivers an idea of some games they can play with their seniors. Here are some of the suggestions from their website:

alternate text

Marbles Good Thinking Kit – This portable kit boasts over 100 activities to help improve memory, critical thinking, coordination, visual perception and word skills.

 

Pengoloo – Pengoloo is as much fun as one of penguins’ favorite pastimes: sliding down icy hills on their bellies! The best part? This charming game works your memory without you even realizing it. (The greatest brain health games are sneaky like that.)

 

Rush Hour – This multi-award winner is one of Marbles’ bestsellers; my kids love it too. Perhaps it’s the fun of setting up the game board based on pictures of traffic jams and then plotting your escape as you slide cars and trucks out of the way. Although it looks like a kid’s game, it’s challenging to even the best adult puzzlers.

 

 

 

Sherlock Deluxe – As Sherlock searches for clues, players are asked to recall objects on a facedown card. If the player is correct, the card is turned face-up and Sherlock moves on. If Sherlock lands on a face-up card, the player gets to keep that card. The first player to collect six cards wins. For adults, the game just might help you remember that you left your keys in the freezer.

 

And because we are not always around or available to play, a good solitary brain game continues to be:

Little Black & White Book of Crosswords – Of course, there areother crossword puzzles out there. But The New York Times Crossword is the gold standard. The bible. The one that all others are measured against. Now you can get 200 of these brilliant bad boys in The New York Times Little Black (and White) Book of Crosswords from puzzle master Will Shortz.

Caregiverlist® suggests that the next time you think of healthy aging and senior caregiving, remember to add some brain exercises. Along with physical activity and good nutrition, it will help you help your senior to age well.

Sun Safety Especially Important for Seniors

Ah, June! Finally, the cold, dreary days of winter are gone and the summer sun warms our bones. Last weekend, city pools were full to capacity. This is perfect weather — the recent numbing cold weather is a just a memory, and we well know that unbearable heat that will have us scrambling for air conditioning is right around the corner. But for right now, we will take advantage of these halcyon days and spend every available moment outdoors.

Before caregivers head outside with their seniors, it’s important to know that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. In fact, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the odds of developing skin cancer rise as you age; in fact, between 40 and 50 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will have at least one skin cancer.

Why is it that those over 70 years old have the highest incidence of skin cancer of any age group? I remember the days when baby oil was used as suntan lotion. A recent study conducted in Germany concluded that repeated sunburns during a lifetime increased the chances of melanoma later in life, writes Susan Evans, MD.

Tanning beds, introduced into the U.S. in 1979, were touted as the epitome of health and fitness. Tanning salons became hugely popular. However, we now know that using a tanning bed will increase your chances of getting skin cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology says studies have shown people who have been exposed to UV rays from indoor tanning have a 59% increase of developing melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. And just recently, the FDA reclassified them as "moderate-risk devices" instead of "low-risk". (The Skin Cancer Foundation, along with a host of other experts, feels that the reclassification doesn’t go far enough.)

But all is not lost. Damage can be mitigated and we can safeguard ourselves and our seniors from destroying any more precious skin cells. The following precautions can keep keep skin damage at a minimum and reduce the chance of future melanoma:

  • Wear waterproof sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Cover up with broad brimmed hats, protective clothing, and UV-filtering sunglasses.
  • Seek shade instead of direct sunlight, especially during 10am and 4pm, when the sun is strongest.

In the meantime, seniors should arrange for regular skin cancer screenings with their doctors and educate themselves on what types of skin changes for which to be vigilant. Caregivers should also know the indicators of melanoma and be on the lookout for any skin anomalies.



Caregiverlist® invites you to learn more about helping seniors age well with Caregiverlist® Basic Training, powered by Caregiver Training University. The 8-hour training course provides easy-to-access online caregiver training for professional and family caregivers and meets senior caregiver orientation training requirements for many states.

Senior Housing Building Boom: Too Much Too Soon?

I am part of a very substantial population of the United States known as Baby Boomers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 76.4 million American children were born post-World War II, between the years 1945 and 1964, making up almost 40% of the American population. As much as we would love to age in place, the fact is that if we see 80+ years old, we will need some sort of help with Activities of Daily Living, and the cold, hard truth is that a lot of us will receive that help in some sort of assisted living community.

It’s no wonder that many real estate developers are banking on building for a significant niche market. Home and commercial real estate building in 2014 point to a post-recession recovery. However, are those developing housing for the elderly building too much too soon?

Analysts say that a glut in the supply of senior housing is destined to hurt hurt health-care real estate investment trusts (REITs). Bloomberg News reported that the jump in supply is forecast to cut growth in senior-housing net operating income to 1.8 percent in 2015 and 1.4 percent in 2016 from 3.3 percent this year, according to Green Street Advisors Inc. These projections have translated into a 17 percent fall in the Bloomberg health-care REIT index during the last 12 months.

Brookdale Senior Living Inc. (BKD:US), is buying competitor Emeritus Corp. (ESC:US) for about $1.4 billion, Green Street Advisors told Bloomberg, making it the biggest owner of senior properties, with 1,161 senior care facilities in 46 states.

While the supply of senior care communities is increasing, the over-85 population is projected to increase to just 7 million by 2020. Senior housing won’t be in full swing for a few more years, when the nation’s “oldest old” could number as many as 31 million in 2050, although Jacob Gehl, managing director and founding partner of Blueprint Healthcare Real Estate Advisors, a brokerage and advisory firm in Chicago, told Bloomberg that peak demand is projected to be 15 to 20 years away.

It will be interesting to see how these new properties compete by way of staff, amenities, and senior housing costs. It will also be interesting to see if the trend in preferring to age at home with the assistance of quality home care continues. A lot can happen to the senior care landscape in 20 years.

Caregiverlist® would love to know about you and your family's projected needs. Where do you see yourself living when you are in need of assistance? Are you hoping your family will care for you? Do you see yourself moving into some sort of assisted living well before you absolutely need it?

Mother's Day Gift Ideas for the Senior Mom

The day my daughter was born — my firstborn — I held her in my arms, looked into her eyes and fell deeply and unbelievable in love. Then I picked up the phone, called my mother, and apologized for every rotten thing I had ever done to her (especially during my teenage years.)

You certainly don’t need to be a mother to celebrate your mother. If you are lucky enough to have mom or a grandmother around to honor, we have a few suggestions that go beyond Chanel No. 5 (not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Peace of Mind
If you mother lives alone (over 80% of American women outlive their male spouses), making sure she’s safe can be a great gift. Senior-proof the home to help prevent falls. Buy her a Medical Alert system. Technology is a beautiful thing and some systems come equipped with GPS tracking if your mother is a senior on the go.

Stay in Touch
The best cell phones for seniors have have large buttons that are easy to read and a high contrast LED screen. Look for amplified sound and, in some cases, urgent care monitoring, similar to the response she’d receive through an alert system. Two of the most popular cell phones especially made for seniors are Snapfon and Jitterbug with 5Star Urgent Response (which is running a Mother’s Day promotion for $20 off.)

I’ve recently set my mother up to Skype her family halfway around the world. At 83, she believes her flying days are over, but she is always delighted to speak with her brother in Poland face-to-face.

Preserve Memories
Remember when photos were printed on paper? Most seniors have boxes and albums full of memories, but they may be difficult to get to. Scan those photos and present them to her on a digital photo frame. She can watch her favorite memories play on a continuous loop.

A Little Help Here?
Many times we find our schedules so hectic, we forget that the elderly mom might need a little help with day-to-day activities. Perhaps she could use help with shopping, light housekeeping, or simple companionship. You can hire a fully vetted and bonded companion caregiver for just a few hour per week through a quality home care agency.

Time
Let’s face it — the best present you can give is your presence. Stuff is just stuff. If you can, spend a little time with your mother this holiday and show her what she means to you.

Cargiverlist® wishes all the mothers and grandmothers out there a happy Mothers Day. If you have some special gift suggestions, we’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Log in