Friday, December 26, 2014

Places to Walk for a Cane or Walker

Walking is an activity that can be done by anyone, young or old.  

Couple walking through the park on a sunny day.
Walking stimulates the circulation, invigorates the brain, and otherwise keeps us and our elderly loved ones vital and thriving.

Now, we understand that there’s a fear that some seniors have of going outside and falling. Nobody wants to use their emergency medical alert system in an emergency.  There are some places, however, which can be navigated with canes and walkers with the help of a loved one.

Here are some places where you can take your elderly loved ones walking.


Most of the driveways are paved, and for those who have limited endurance and mobility, walking up and down the driveway might be just enough exercise. Over time, endurance will develop.

Parking Lots

This is another outdoor activity which doesn’t get enough attention.  Parking lots, when maintained, are flat and relatively bump free.  That way, walkers and canes can get a good purchase on the ground.


There are parks everywhere, and a lot of the larger parks have tracks or walking trails that a walker or cane can be used on.  There will be lots of people in case there’s a need for an emergency system, too.

Hiking Trails

Woman walking with camera and medical alert pendant.
When we think about hiking, we think about physically fit folks who clear the Appalachian Trail with their bare hands.  There are other types of trails, however.  
Now, we understand that there are people in inclement weather, and that our elderly are very susceptible to climate changes.  We don’t believe that exercise should be done at the expense of other facets of health.  Here are some places to walk indoors with a cane and walker.

Grocery stores

Most people don’t think about grocery stores as being walking tracks, but they are.  Take a trip around the produce section, then wander around to the dairy and beyond.  Just walking the perimeter of the larger grocery stores can be a workout.  
The other thing about going shopping at grocery stores is that people expect you to be wandering around the store.  You can stay in anonymity, yet flash your emergency system jewelry if you’d like.

Big Box Stores

Does your elderly loved one enjoy hardware, general stores, or warehouse stores?  If you think about it as if they are flat tracks, you can get your loved one out walking with their cane or walker and not really notice that they’re exercising in the process.  Walking around while shopping is a good way to stay in motion and be sociable.


Malls have been around for a long time, and some say that they might be going out of style with the digital revolution.  While they’re still around, though, they make walking wonderlands, as they take great care in decorating and making malls beautiful and upscale places to be.
Again, for those who are concerned about falling and having to use their medical alert system, there are plenty of people around within the mall that can help out and help your elderly loved one feel more at home.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of where your elderly loved one can take a walk, but hopefully we’ve got the ball rolling.  We’d love to hear about where you love to go walking with canes and walkers.  

Friday, December 19, 2014

Improving Accessibility Of Your Home During The Holidays and Winter

Holiday decorations make for an inviting front door and walkway.

As we dive headfirst into this year’s holiday season, it is important to keep your houseguests’ comfort in mind.

Holiday preparations are stressful enough, but ensuring the visitability of your house is one crucial step that is often ignored until the last minute. Nothing ruins a holiday party like an accident to a loved one who slipped and fell on the front steps and broke her ribs because the steps weren’t properly cleaned or slip-proofed. Or the cousin who slips on a patch of ice and breaks a wrist as he helps grandma from her wheelchair.

There are several ways in which you might accommodate your visitors, and help prevent falls. You might clean the house before Christmas or set up an elaborate holiday display in your front lawn. You are going to want to make sure that you have enough food for everyone at the table so you’ll cook double the amount that you think will be eaten. These are all great measures to take in order to ensure a festive experience for all – assuming that everyone can get through the front door. Along with the regular holiday preparations, it is important to make sure that all of your guests can easily access your home. What I’m talking about here is a term called ‘visitability’, or the degree to which one can easily visit your house.

Wheelchair ramp being used in winter by elderly people.These accidents are things that can be easily avoided with some simple preparation. All it requires is for you to put yourself in the mindset of someone with a mobility issue. While you are hanging up those holiday decorations, take a walk around the house to identify the best access point for someone with a mobility issue. Even if you don’t have someone in your family with a direct impairment, plan for the unexpected. You never know who those extra last minute guests might be and it is better to be prepared than to be unprepared.
Once you’ve identified the best point of access, think of ways that you can enhance visitability without breaking the bank. Not all solutions need to be permanent - portable ramps are a temporary quick-fix for short rises that are inaccessible to someone in a wheelchair. Deploy one the night of your holiday gathering and conveniently store it away after it has been used. If poor weather is on the horizon and could lead to icy, slippery steps, you might want to consider installing some non-slip treads to provide extra traction for all of your visitors, preventing a potential slip and fall injury. Of course, all icy steps and pathways should be shoveled and salted. Finally, make sure your point of access is well-lit and that all steps feature railings to support someone in the case of a stumble.
Non slip treads on a ramp.

These are just a few suggestions to get you started, but each home is different and will require a unique visitability solution. Let’s all have a save and joyous holiday season!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Tree Safety Tips

We love the holiday season!  

Small Christmas Tree on a table is a fun idea.
The lights, the food, and the cheer all contribute to the wonder of the season that can be felt in people both young and old. However, the holidays have their own special dangers. I’m not talking about eating too much. I’m talking about the dangers of Christmas trees.
Care and Placement
Christmas trees are very pretty, but they are a fire risk and a trip risk. Remember that we’re trying to avoid the use of emergency devices this holiday season! The tree that you choose shouldn’t be already dried out. It will dry out naturally as the season goes on. If it is too dry there is a risk of fire.
One way to help control that is to keep the water in the tree stand filled. You can tell when a tree is getting too dry by touching the needles. Check the water levels in the stand if they’re starting to lose their freshness.
While it’s somewhat romantic to have the twinkling Christmas tree close to the fire, you don’t want to have it too close to the fire, as that can create a hazard.  Every year, there’s an increased use of medical necklaces because of fire. The beauty of the scene isn’t worth using the pendant for emergencies.
Speaking of placement, the tree also shouldn’t be in the way of anything. Your elderly loved one doesn’t want to have to dodge the tree, or have it fall on them because of a poor stand. To prevent the tree from falling over and possibly creating a medical alert pendant device situation, take a few moments to make sure that the tree is absolutely stable in its stand.  Get a larger stand if you need one.  
Putting Up the Lights
Putting up the lights is something that family members both young and old can share in to celebrate the season.  Minimizing fire and the use of medical alert jewelry is of the highest priority.  Examine each strand of lights to make sure that there are no frayed wires or damaged lights.  A little spark and a dry tree creates fires.
While you might have gotten a deal on Jim-Bob’s Bargain Basement Lights, you might want to forgo using those in favor of ones which have the Underwriter’s Laboratory safety label.  These have been tested and certified as being safe.
Keep your extension cords limited, for fear of shorting and other hazards which may happen.  Limit the extension cords to a single one per outlet, with no more than three sets of lights on a single extension cord.
Also, only use the lights when you’re around them.  Don’t go to sleep with the Christmas lights on because you’re not there to keep an eye on it.
While the holidays are wonderfully bright and cheery, make sure that you’re being safe with your Christmas tree and putting up the decorations. Follow these tips and you won’t have to worry about your holiday decoration sending you to the hospital. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

High-Tech Solutions for Aging in Place . . . Even If You Aren’t Technically Inclined

New technology for seniors is easy to use.

Have you had this conversation before?
Mother and daughter talk about getting a medical alert system from Medical Care Alert.

“Mom, I think we need to talk about you living here on your own.”
“I’m fine. This is my home. I’m happy here—my friends are here. My life is here.”
“But Mom, I worry about you constantly. What if you fall and there’s no one here to help you?”
“Stop worrying! You’re my daughter, not my mother. I’m not in any danger. And I’m NOT going into one of those homes—at least not for a long time.”
“But, I can’t stop worrying...”
It’s a scene that has played itself out countless times in this country. Elderly parents who are gradually becoming frailer but who refuse to move into a retirement or nursing home, arguing with their adult children who are plagued with worry over their safety.
The tension arises when the children experience anxiety over the parent’s safety to the point where they want to limit their independence just to keep them safe, like an overprotective parent but without the moral authority. The parent rebels, not willing to hand over their independence and quality of life just yet.
In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 89 percent of Americans over the age of 50 want to stay in their homes as long as possible, a phenomenon known as “aging in place”—a phrase we’re all becoming increasingly familiar with.
In many cases, however, their grown children resist. And, oftentimes, the elderly parents themselves are privately experiencing some anxiety over their ability to cope. Maybe they’ve had a frightening moment on the basement stairs and wondered what would have happened had they fallen. But, they don’t want to mention it to their children in case it’s used as ammunition to move them to an institution.
Although aging in place research is limited, there is evidence that it will have significant benefits in terms of the social and emotional well-being of the elderly person, as well as financial savings for individuals, families, and government. In many ways, it seems like a win-win situation, if it can be made to work.
Aging in place requires the support of family, neighbors, and the community if it is to be done safely. House cleaning, gardening or snow removal, meal preparation, or perhaps some personal or nursing care may be required. If the adult children live a distance away, friends or neighbors nearby might be solicited to be the “boots on the ground” in an emergency or to check in at regular intervals. This responsibility can take a considerable toll on the peace of mind and the busy schedules of all involved.
And, even with all of that support, adult children, especially those who live at a distance, may still be reluctant to get on board.
Fortunately, the high-tech industry has responded to the challenge with a myriad of new technologies that can help ease the tension by allowing the children a greater degree of peace of mind, while parents retain their independence for as long as possible. Whether the children are worried about their parents falling, wandering off, or forgetting to take their meds, there’s a gadget for that. Here are just a few examples:
Pendants and wearables.
Wearable alert devices, such as a medical alert system from Medical Care Alert, which can be worn as a watch or pendant or can clip onto clothing, have a large emergency button that seniors can use in case of distress. Medical Care Alert offers a two-way voice console and 24/7 monitoring by a human being who will summon assistance and maintain contact until help arrives.
Activity sensors.
A number of products on the market, Lively for example, feature a central wireless hub that interfaces with small individual sensors that can be placed on the fridge, cupboards, doors, or medicine cabinet (or worn on the person) and will relay a report of activity to a family member, so they know their loved one is moving around and engaging in the activities of daily living.
Medication reminders.
For seniors with complicated or critical medication regimens, but who can be forgetful, an automated pill dispenser such as MedMinder’s Maya can remind them with sounds and flashing lights when to take their meds, going so far as to telephone the person if necessary. The service can also be accessed via the internet by the family to ensure things are going according to plan.
Video monitoring.
A do-it-yourself, secure, cloud-based video camera system such as iWatchLife is a low-cost way for family to be able to see their elderly parents with their own eyes, in real time, without invading their privacy. It’s easy to install and operate. In addition to offering a live video feed that a family member can access from anywhere by phone, tablet, or computer, the service will also send real-time alerts about kinds of activity that the family deems important, e.g., the bedroom door opening every morning, or activity on a staircase. The family can log in at any time to see the live feed or a recorded event, and reassure themselves that all is well. Video monitoring can also help the family keep an eye on the personal support workers who come and go in the home to make sure they are treating the parent well.
Children of those who are aging in place should take the time to investigate the new technologies available to help the ones they love live a safer, more satisfying and independent life as long as possible. In the long run, it’s a win-win situation that promises greater quality of life for the aging and can be done in a way that will ensure the peace of mind of their children.
Article provided by See what matters today with DIY home video monitoring.