My grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease about ten months ago. We lived several hours apart, so he recently moved in with me and my family. We felt it was the best way to keep him healthy and safe.
While we are learning more about the disease and how to manage changes, one challenge is particularly worrisome. In the last few weeks, he’s started getting agitated and pacing in the evening. Researching these behaviors has me convinced my grandfather is experiencing sundowner’s syndrome. I understand it puts him at higher risk for attempting to wander from home.
I’m concerned if he does wander, we won’t be able to find him before something terrible happens. We have a home security system, but we don’t always have it on. Do you have any suggestions for what we can do to keep him safe?
Steve from Ann Arbor, Michigan
GPS Tracking for Adults with Alzheimer’s Disease
We’ve heard from others in this situation many times over the years. Wandering is a common worry as the disease progresses. In fact, Alzheimer’s Association research shows that six out of ten people with the disease will wander. Locating a senior quickly is essential.
Fortunately, technology provides seniors and their family members with a variety of solutions. A leading option is GPS tracking devices. Here are a couple to explore for your grandfather:
- SmartSole®: This discreet GPS device is actually a trimmable insole that fits snuggly into a senior’s shoe. Once inserted, the technology in the sole can track a senior’s location if they wander away and become lost. It works by establishing circular perimeters known as geozones. If the senior exits these areas, their caregivers will receive an alert. The caregivers can also use a smartphone app to instantly check their senior loved one’s location.
- GPS watch: Another option family caregivers find useful is a GPS watch. They are especially effective for a senior accustomed to wearing a watch, as they will be less likely to try to remove it. Many look similar to a sports watch, making them a more discreet option than a pendant. Features vary by model but the TK-STAR GPS Watch and the Tycho Real-time SOS GPS Tracker earn good reviews.
Finally, I’d also like to share a few resources that might be helpful in managing agitation and reducing the risk for wandering. 4 Common Triggers for Anger and Agitation in People with Alzheimer’s and Wandering are two articles to review.
I hope this information is useful in caring for your grandfather, Steve.
Memory Care at Heritage Senior Living Communities
Families who have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or a similar type of dementia often find the support of a specialized dementia care community to be an ideal solution. These programs keep a senior with memory loss safe while also allowing for the best quality of life. Call the Heritage Senior Living community nearest you to learn more today!
While employing a contractor can feel risky at any age, it can be especially hard for a senior to hire a contractor. Because there is a perception that they are easy to scam, it’s important for loved ones to be especially careful of who is hired and vigilant throughout the process.
From high pressure tactics to trick a senior into paying for “emergency” repairs to taking money for a deposit and disappearing, home improvement scams cost older adults a lot of money. According to the FBI, fraud against seniors totals $3 billion in losses each year. Home repair and improvement scams account for much of it.
So, what can you do if an older adult in your family needs to hire a contractor? We have some safety tips you can use to protect them and their finances.
Screening and Hiring a Home Improvement Contractor
- Be wary of door-to-door salesmen: Don’t hire anyone who shows up on the doorstep offering deep discounts because they are “working in the area.” This is one of the most common scams targeting older adults.
- Know what you want: If you are seeking a contractor for renovation work, spend time listing what you want and need. Are you trying to make improvements for better resale value? Or modifications to keep the senior safer? Have a solid understanding of what you are looking for before meeting with contractors.
- Ask trusted friends for referrals: The best way to find a contractor you can trust is through friends and family. Ask for the names of contractors they have actually used, not just people they know.
- Check with the Agency on Aging: While they tend not to make recommendations, some local offices on aging do keep a list of senior-friendly contractors. That will at least give you a few to call as you begin the search. The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging allows you to search for an agency near your senior loved one’s home.
- Get written quotes and proof of insurance: Whenever possible, have a second person available when the senior meets with each potential contractor. Having a second set of eyes and ears is invaluable. Ask each contractor to provide a written quote, copy of their contract, and proof of insurance. Also ask for a list of references.
- Don’t pay upfront: Many contractors require a deposit, but you should never pay the full amount up front. That’s a red flag that the contractor may not be legitimate. If possible, pay by credit card. Doing so gives you some leverage if the project isn’t done correctly or if the contractor disappears. Most credit card companies will work with clients who file a dispute.
- Never rush your decision: Take time to thoughtfully review estimates and check the contractor’s license, references, and proof of insurance. It is usually beneficial to check with the Better Business Bureau and read any online reviews you can find. Be wary if a contractor tries to convince you to use them with warnings about potential price increases or lack of availability.
- Hold on to final payment: Finally, don’t agree to pay the final amount until you and the senior are satisfied with the work. It may be your only recourse for getting the contractor to fix anything you are unhappy with before they move on to a new project.
The AARP has a few templates you might find helpful, including one for interviewing contractors and another for checking references. You can download them at no cost.
Moving to an Assisted Living Community
If you are making home improvements in anticipation of your senior loved one moving to assisted living, you might be struggling to figure out your next steps. At Heritage Senior Communities, we understand the process can be overwhelming. 10 Tips for Downsizing and Moving a Senior Loved One might be of interest. It covers topics ranging from decluttering to staying organized.
June, July, and August are traditionally busy vacation months for families because the kids are out of school. From road trips to visits to faraway grandparents and beach getaways, it’s something everyone looks forward to all year. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic kept people home last summer. “Staycations” became more popular than ever as people planned creative getaways in their own backyards.
As coronavirus restrictions ease, many families are gearing up for long-awaited summer vacations. A challenge some face is what to do about a senior loved one who isn’t able to travel. Adult children who’ve taken on the role of caregiver for an aging parent might think a vacation isn’t in the cards for them.
Unpaid Family Caregivers
More people find themselves in the role of an unpaid family caregiver. They play a crucial role in the health and well-being of loved ones. The AARP estimates that one in five adults, or 53 million people, are unpaid family caregivers. It’s a rewarding but often exhausting role.
Family caregivers are often required to be “on call” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even if their senior loved one doesn’t live with them. It’s a physically and emotionally demanding situation that can take a toll on the caregiver’s health. That’s why it’s necessary to take regular breaks, including vacations with family and close friends.
Respite care is one solution caregivers can consider. It can bridge the gap in supporting the senior so family members can relax and enjoy a vacation.
Respite Care Allows Family Caregivers to Take a Vacation
Respite care is a short-term solution designed to give a family caregiver a break. A caregiver can utilize respite at a senior living community for a short period of time to take care of personal needs or for a long getaway. Many communities allow respite guests to stay for a month at a time as often as they would like.
Respite residents receive the same level of personal care and support as the community’s permanent residents. At most communities, respite guests will enjoy:
- A private, furnished apartment or suite with safety features that generally include an emergency call system, grab bars in the bathroom, and handrails in hallways
- Assistance with personal care needs, such as bathing, grooming, and dressing
- Three healthy meals a day from a restaurant-style menu
- Medication oversight, including reminders and assistance at dosage time
- Diverse calendar of daily life enrichment activities and fitness programs
- Transportation to physician appointments and outings to local restaurants, shopping centers, and other popular destinations
- Weekly laundry and housekeeping services, as well as any maintenance and repair work that might arise
Learn More About Respite Care for Caregivers
If your family could benefit from respite care, call a few local senior living communities. Ask to schedule an in-person or virtual tour. It’s the best way to determine if respite care and the community are a good fit for your senior loved one. For families in Michigan and Indiana, we invite you to call the Heritage Senior Living community nearest you to learn more!
I’m planning a summer gathering for several generations of our family at our Michigan home. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we haven’t spent time together in over a year. While things are improving, we are still being cautious. I thought it might be best to spend the bulk of our time outdoors.
I’m struggling to come up with intergenerational activities everyone can enjoy together outside. Because of your experience with seniors, I thought I would see if you had any suggestions.
Bonnie in West Branch, MI
Intergenerational Summer Activities
That sounds like a fun, safe approach to getting your family together this summer! I’ve talked with so many families who are excited to reunite after the long separation.
I do have a few suggestions to help you plan your family reunion including some fun outdoor activities for the grandkids:
- Croquet or bocce ball: Depending upon how much space you have, it might be fun to have a croquet or bocce ball tournament. You can split families up into teams and host a single elimination contest. Check with your local thrift store or online garage sale site if you don’t have either game.
- Outdoor movie night: The price of movie projectors has fallen so dramatically that it is more affordable than ever to host your own backyard movie night. These reviews will help you find a highly rated projector. Depending upon ages of loved ones, you can show a Disney movie or stream the latest thriller on Netflix. Don’t forget to pop some corn and pick up candy and drinks.
- Backyard games: Old-fashioned, interactive games are another avenue to consider. They might be especially fun for the older generation. Potato sack races, an egg and spoon relay race, and ring toss are a few your family might enjoy. They are easy and inexpensive to incorporate.
- Scavenger hunt: Another fun way to spend a few hours is by having a family scavenger hunt. It can be as simple or as complicated as you’d like. Goose Chase and Verywell Family both have great resources for planning a unique scavenger hunt. Add to the excitement with prizes for the winning team!
I hope these outdoor activities with the grandkids help jump-start your planning and that your entire family enjoys the time together!
Visit a Heritage Senior Living Community This Summer
Summer is a great time to move to a senior living community! We invite you to schedule an in-person or virtual tour of a Heritage Senior Living community near you. Call us today to set up a time!