Technology to Help Caregivers Keep a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Safe

Technology to Help Caregivers Keep a Loved One with Alzheimer’s Safe

Adults with Alzheimer’s disease experience increased forgetfulness and a decline in mental acuity, both of which can affect their safety.

Thankfully, there are many tech safety products available for adults with Alzheimer’s. Using the right technology can improve the safety of your loved one and give you some peace of mind knowing they are safe. Here is a list of some of the best safety products for adults with Alzheimer’s disease.


Gadgets That Help With Wandering

Wandering is one of the top concerns for Alzheimer’s caregivers. Those with Alzheimer’s may wander when they feel uncomfortable or agitated. Here are 4 safety devices you may want to consider:

  1. GPS watches: You’ve heard of GPS devices for driving, but did you know GPS devices can also improve the safety of those who wander? They do so by making it easier locate an older adult, often in real time, if he or she roams away.
  2. Door alarms: Door alarms are devices that sound when the door opens. Even though they are simple, they can be lifesaving, especially if your loved one wanders at night.
  3. Smart locks: Smart locks can track when doors open and close. You can also program them to alert you when doors are used during specific times of the day. This can be useful if your loved one tends to wander during specific times of the day.
  4. MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®: MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return® is an emergency response service specifically designed for adults with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia who wander or have a medical emergency. If your loved one wanders, you can call the 24-hour emergency line to report. A community support network will be activated to help locate and reunite them to you.


Products That Assist With Falls

Falling accounts for the majority of injuries among adults aged 65 and older. Those with Alzheimer’s are at an even greater risk.

There are many ways to reduce falls, and technology can supplement traditional precautionary measures. The following products can help prevent falls or notify you if a fall occurs.

  • Motion sensor lights: Motion sensor lights are programmed to turn on when they detect movement. This can be extremely beneficial in the homes of adults with Alzheimer’s. They can be set up around the home to turn on whenever your loved one enters a room.
  • Fall detection devices: There is a large selection of fall detection devices on the market today. There are bracelets where you can push a button for help, as well as more advanced devices that detect falls based on sensation.


Tech Safety for Everyday Life

  • Automatic pill dispenser: You can’t assume that a person with memory problems always remembers to take their medication, regardless of how minor their problems may seem.

Automatic pill dispensers can make it easier for adults with Alzheimer’s to take their pills as prescribed. You can program the dispenser to distribute and alert them to take their medication at a given time. Only the programmed amount is dispensed, which helps to prevent them from accidentally double-dosing.

  • Voice control assistants: There are many ways voice control assistants can improve safety for older adults:
    • Make calls or send messages if your loved one needs emergency assistance.
    • Set reminders to turn off cooking appliances.
    • Set reminders to do everyday tasks such as feed pets and take medications.
    • Ask questions without getting up.


Tips for Introducing New Technology

Introducing new technology can be challenging for even the most tech savvy adults, but new technology can be even more complicated for adults with cognitive difficulties. Here are a few tips for you to successfully introduce new technology in to your loved one’s life.

  • Make sure the technology is easy to use. New technology should improve their quality of life, not leave them frustrated and agitated.
  • Don’t introduce too much at once. Make sure they understand how something works before attempting to introduce something else.
  • Include them in the process. Let your loved one feel included by making them a part of the decision-making process, if they are able.


Technology Does Not Replace a Person

It’s important to remember that technology does not take the place of a person. Socialization has been shown to prolong the mental acuity of adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Keep that in mind as you decide which tech products to take advantage of.

At Heritage Senior Communities, we know technology can significantly improve the safety of adults in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. As the disease progresses, however, your loved one’s needs may exceed the abilities of even the most advanced tech gadgets.

Many of our communities have dedicated memory care programs for adults with Alzheimer’s disease and related forms of dementia. Contact us to learn about our specialized dementia care or to schedule a tour of a community near you.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day

National POW/MIA Recognition Day

National Prisoners of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Recognition Day is the day our nation gathers to honor its prisoners of war and soldiers who are still missing, as well as their family members.

This observance takes place the third Friday in September, making 2018 National POW/MIA Recognition Day September 21st. In honor of this national observance, here are the answers to 4 frequently asked questions about POW/MIA Recognition Day.


  1. What does POW/MIA Recognition Day mean to the families?

Imagine if someone you love went missing and never returned. Think about how you would wonder what happened to them. Are they safe? Are they in pain? And perhaps the most difficult question of all: Are they still alive?

For the families of those who are missing, this is their reality. And the hard truth is that some may never know the answers to their questions. They will continue to suffer from something referred to as an ambiguous loss.

An ambiguous loss is a term we use to describe losses related to presence and absence. There are two main types: a physical absence with a psychological presence, and a physical presence with a psychological absence.

If you know someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, you may already be familiar with the latter. Your loved one with Alzheimer’s is physically there, but they are psychologically absent.

The families of those who are still missing experience the opposite. Their loved ones are missing, but they don’t have closure.

Ambiguous loss makes it difficult to move on. National POW/MIA Recognition Day reminds us that there are families who tirelessly carry the burden of their missing loved ones.


  1. What is the National League of POW/MIA?

The National League of POW/MIA helps honor our nation’s promise to leave no one behind. The league’s sole purpose is as follows:

  • Obtain the release of all prisoners
  • Reach the fullest possible accounting for the missing
  • Attain repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died serving our nation during the Vietnam War

The league allows families to feel like they are not alone. There is an entire team just as determined as they are to bring their loved one home.


  1. What is the significance of the POW/MIA flag?

In 1970, the National League of POW/MIA families designed the flag to represent our missing military members. Today, the flag continues to serve as a symbol of America’s determination to account for the brave men and women who are still missing and unaccounted for.

In 1988, Congress passed the Defense Authorization Act, which requires the POW/MIA flag to be flown six days a year: Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day, and Veterans Day.


  1. How do you observe POW/MIA Recognition Day?

We have our courageous military men and women to thank for the freedoms we enjoy today. As a nation, it is our obligation to acknowledge that every veteran made a sacrifice, and those who never made it home made the ultimate sacrifice.

There are many ways you can honor veterans and observe POW/MIA Recognition Day. Here are a few ways you can get involved:

  • Take time to reflect on those who were held prisoner, who never made it home, and whose families desperately want answers.
  • Share a heartfelt message on social media thanking veterans for their service and acknowledging those who have yet to return.
  • If you know someone who has a missing family member, send them a card. Let them know you are thinking about them and acknowledge their strength.
  • Fly the flag on POW/MIA Recognition Day.
  • Donate to the National League of POW/MIA to support its mission.


Gone But Never Forgotten

Some were taken prisoner, some are simply missing. One thing remains the same: they are all missed.

How Caregivers Can Protect Their Marriage

How Caregivers Can Protect Their Marriage

Dear Donna,

I have been a caregiver for my mother for three years; she is 86 and lives alone. At first, she just needed a little help around the house. But as her health declines, the amount of time I spend at her house increases.

Unfortunately, it is beginning to take a toll on my marriage. My husband is always complaining that we don’t spend enough time together. He got agitated when I had to cancel our weekly date nights, and he complains that I spend all my time with my mom.

Our limited time together doesn’t seem to be enough. How do I protect my marriage when I am the caregiver for a parent?


Heather Jones, Saline, MI


Protecting Your Marriage When You Are a Caregiver

Dear Heather,

Caring for an aging parent requires time and energy. This can place a considerable strain on even the healthiest of marriages.

But just because you are a caregiver doesn’t mean your marriage has to suffer. Here’s how using love languages can help caregivers protect their marriage without sacrificing the quality of care they provide their parents.


Learn the 5 Love Languages

You may be familiar with love languages. This popular phrase was coined by Dr. Gary Chapman in The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts. In his book, Dr. Chapman explains that there are five main ways that people express and receive love; each person communicates love differently.

The five love languages include the following:

  1. Words of affirmation: Love is expressed with words that build up their confidence.
  2. Quality time: Your partner needs to spend quality time together to feel loved.
  3. Receiving gifts: Love is exchanged by giving and receiving gifts.
  4. Acts of service: Your partner feels love when you help them with tasks.
  5. Physical touch: Your partner needs to be touched to feel loved.

Chapman then explains that each person has a “love tank,” and to feel loved, the love tank needs to be regularly filled.


Identify Your Husband’s Love Language

Now that you are familiar with the five love languages, it’s time to figure out your husband’s love language. Here are a few ways you can do this.

  1. Listen to what your partner complains about the most.

You can learn a lot about your husband’s love language by listening to the things he regularly complains about. For example, if he is saying things like, “You don’t acknowledge anything I do for you,” then his love language is probably words of affirmation.

Does he ask questions like, “Why don’t you cook dinner for me anymore?” If so, then he probably understands love through acts of service.

  1. Pay attention to the way your partner shows you love.

People usually show love to others in the same way they would like to receive it. Pay attention to the things your husband does for you to show you he loves you.

Since he often comments about the amount of time you spend with your mother, there’s a good chance his love language is quality time.


Speak His Love Language

Now that you’ve identified your husband’s love language, it is important to practice it.

Assuming that your partner’s love language is quality time, it is essential to make time for him. Here are a few tips.

  • Have meaningful conversations. Take a few minutes every day to talk to your husband. This can be done anywhere, at any time—just make sure he has your undivided attention. Maintain eye contact when he is speaking to you. This will help reassure him you are paying attention to him, therefore reaffirming your love.
  • Share a daily meal together. If possible, have at least one with just the two of you. Again, make sure he has your full attention—this means no television or phones. Maybe put someone else in charge of handling any phone calls that could come up regarding your mother.
  • Consider respite care. If you have trouble spending quality time with your husband, you may want to consider respite care. Your mother can temporarily stay in an assisted living community. Respite care is available at all of our assisted living locations, including Linden Square.

Remember, for someone whose love language is quality time, quality is more important than quantity. If your caregiving role only allows you to spend 30 minutes a day with your husband, make sure those 30 minutes count. While speaking his love language won’t solve all of your relationship problems, it is a step in the right direction.

Kind regards,


Need Respite Care for a Loved One?

Heritage Senior Communities offer respite care at every location. Contact us to ask questions or to schedule a private tour at one of our sites.


5 Tips to Help You Better Cope With Caregiver Anxiety

5 Tips to Help You Better Cope With Caregiver Anxiety

Dear Donna,

My husband and I recently decided to move my mom into our home. She has advanced arthritis, so having her here allows us to help her with the tasks she has trouble with. 

Immediately after she moved in, we realized she needed a lot more help than we had anticipated. Her doctor advised her to avoid a few activities, such as heavy lifting and climbing stairs. But we often come home to find her doing at least one of her restricted activities. 

Since she moved in, I have been experiencing anxiety.

As I head home from work, my heart races. I immediately assume there’s going to be an emergency involving my mother. Even when she is safe, I still feel overwhelmed, and it takes me a while to calm down.

I’m afraid that my constant worrying is going to affect my performance at work and strain my relationship with my husband.

How can I better cope with my caregiver anxiety?


Katherine Jones, Holland, MI


Dear Katherine,

Anxiety is a biological response that occurs when your body perceives a threat. This perceived threat triggers feelings of tension and worry, as well as physical changes like increased blood pressure and heart rate.

When you feel out of control, you can quickly begin feeling anxious. You may even get caught up in a cycle of feeling anxious about your anxiety.


Here are 5 tips to help you break the cycle and better cope with caregiver anxiety.


  1. Understand Your Anxiety

Before attempting to cope with your anxiety, take the time to learn what triggers it.

  • Are you afraid your mother will harm herself?
  • Are you afraid of losing her?
  • Do you think she is not taking her health seriously?

When you feel anxious, stop and ask yourself why. Do you notice a pattern?


  1. Do Not Expect to Eliminate Your Anxiety

A mistake people often make when dealing with anxiety is thinking that they will be able to eliminate it.

Anxiety is a biological response, so this assumption is unrealistic. It is more realistic to manage your symptoms.

The next time you feel anxious, acknowledge your symptoms. Take a deep breath and thank your body for the message. Remind yourself that you are anxious because you’re afraid your mom could be in danger, not because she is in danger.


  1. Put Your Health First

It may seem counterintuitive, but putting your health first is one of the simplest ways to relieve anxiety.

Here are a few ways you can be proactive about your health.

  • Get regular check-ups. Don’t wait until you are sick the make an appointment with your doctor.
  • Get enough sleep. Research suggests there is a strong correlation between sleep and anxiety. Those who don’t get enough sleep are 17 times more likely to have clinical anxiety than those with normal sleep habits. Aim to get 7–8 hours of sleep every night. Never sacrifice sleep—it is key to your well-being.
  • Exercise at least 3 times a week. Exercise can play a tremendous role in managing Yoga has been shown to alleviate anxiety and arthritis. You could even invite your mom to join you.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet. Being mindful about the foods you eat can significantly improve anxiety. Say no to sugar and other processed foods. They have been shown to aggravate symptoms of anxiety. Do your best to maintain your weight.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Alcohol and caffeine have been shown to worsen feelings of anxiety. Limit them as much as possible.
  • Take time to relax. Relaxing can be anything from a trip to the spa or a 10-minute meditation


  1. Stay Connected

Healthy relationships are an excellent way for you to cope with anxiety. Here are a few ways you can stay connected.

  • Maintain relationships. Regardless of how busy you are, always make time for friends and family.
  • Join online or in-person caregiver support groups. This will give you a chance to talk about your challenges as a caregiver with those who are likely experiencing the same difficulties.
  • Volunteer. Helping others makes us feel good. Find a cause you are passionate about and volunteer. Not only will you be giving back, but you will also get a chance to meet like-minded people.


  1. Ask for Help When You Need It

Caregivers are often reluctant to ask for help, but it’s important to accept that no one can do this alone. Seek help from:

  • Medical professionals. There is a fine line between normal anxiety and anxiety that requires medical attention.

Don’t be ashamed if you need to seek help from a medical professional. Your doctor will be able to make recommendations specific to your personal needs.

  • Family members. Don’t be afraid to lean on your family. They will often be more than happy to help.
  • Respite Care. If you are concerned about your mom’s safety while you are away, it may be a good idea to consider respite care services.

Assisted Living: When You Need More Than Respite Care

Anxiety isn’t something you can get rid of overnight. For many caregivers, it is an emotion they have to work on regularly.

If you continue to struggle with caregiver anxiety despite your efforts, it may be time to ask your mom to consider an assisted living community.

Heritage Senior Communities provides quality care for seniors across Michigan. Our Appledorn Assisted Living community in Holland provides both assisted living and respite care services. If your mom has any doubts, a short-term respite stay can be a great way for her to experience an assisted living community. Contact us today to schedule a tour.

I hope these tips help you better cope with your caregiver anxiety.

Kind Regards,