What To Know About In-Home Respite Care

Caring for your loved one at home can be both rewarding and challenging. While our loved ones thrive in our care, caregivers can experience stress from the strain of meeting their loved one’s emotional, physical, and medical needs. As a caregiver, self-care is essential to both you and your loved one. 

 

Fortunately, services exist that allow you to find a balance between meeting your and your loved one’s needs, ultimately relieving some stress. In-home respite care is a service that provides aid to caregivers by reducing some of their responsibilities. Let’s take a closer look at in-home respite care and how it may be the right fit for you and your loved one. 

 

In-home Respite Care

Respite care is defined as temporary care that provides services for helping caregivers manage responsibilities associated with caring for their loved ones. This care can be provided in off-site settings such as adult day care or in-home care services. 

 

In-home respite care providers offer a range of assistance through services designed to fit your specific needs. These services can be from conducting household chores, cooking, assisting with personal hygiene routines, companionship, and engaging in activities with your loved one. 

 

Professional in-home respite care providers may come to your home for a couple of hours so that you can conduct errands or take care of personal tasks, or they may spend specific times designated for therapy activities and emotional engagement with your loved one. If needed, overnight care may be arranged when necessary, and some in-home respite caregivers also provide transportation for your loved one when needed.

 

Benefits Of In-Home Respite Care

The challenges of caring for a loved one at home can be alleviated in various ways by using in-home respite care services. In-home respite care allows your loved one continual care in their comfortable surroundings and provides consistent schedules and smooth transitions. This consistency of care relieves the stress and anxiety of both you and your loved one. 

 

In addition to giving caregivers greater flexibility and better time management, in-home respite care eases the strain you can feel by providing care, ultimately restoring your energy and keeping you healthy both mentally and physically. Just knowing that you have a trusted source of help designed to fit your and your loved one’s needs gives you peace of mind. 

 

When we care for loved ones in our homes or their homes, we can quickly become overwhelmed. In-home respite care can provide not only relief for you as a caregiver but also a consistent aid for your loved one

 

 

Great Ways For Family Caregivers To Earn Some Extra Money

Acting as a caregiver for an elderly friend or family member can be challenging. Not only does acting as a caregiver take up a lot of your time, it can also negatively affect your finances. While there are many government-sponsored programs that pay family caregivers, the compensation allotted under these programs is not very much. 

There are millions of people currently acting as family caregivers in the United States. If you are one of these individuals and are struggling to make ends meet, it is time to figure out how to make a few extra dollars. Below are some great ways you can make some extra money without giving up your job as a family caregiver. 

Look For Babysitting Jobs

Most caregivers are extremely compassionate and nurturing people. Using your friendly nature and nurturing tendencies to make a few extra dollars is a good idea. One of the best ways for a caregiver to generate more income is by seeking out babysitting jobs. Ideally, you want to find parents that are willing to drop their children off at the home where you live. 

This will allow you to keep a close eye on your ailing relative while babysitting children for money. Most parents looking for a babysitter will want to see your references. Compiling a list of references and documentation about your previous childcare experience can help you land a babysitting job with ease. 

Provide Caregiving Coaching

If you have years of experience acting as a caregiver, then you need to use your knowledge to help others. People who are about to embark on their own caregiving journey usually seek out the guidance of someone with experience. If you want to monetize your caregiving knowledge, then offering coaching services to people in your area is a great idea. 

Devising a course that walks your clients through how to achieve their caregiving goals is a must. Before you try to get clients for your caregiver coaching service, you need to compile a list of your qualifications. These qualifications will allow you to attract new clients and inform them about what qualifies you to provide these coaching services. 

Pursue a Career as a Freelance Writer

Finding remote work opportunities is something most caregivers are passionate about. In the past few years, the number of remote work opportunities available to people in the United States has grown. If you consider yourself to be a good writer, then you might want to try your hand in the world of freelance writing. 

Business owners and marketing companies are willing to pay good money to dependable writers that can produce great content. Luckily, there are tons of online platforms where you can apply for freelance writing jobs. The great thing about being a freelance writer is that you can do all of your work without leaving the side of your ailing relative. 

By using the information in this article, you can start to make more money in no time. 

Tips For Taking Care of Elderly Loved Ones

Making sure our loved ones are safe, happy and healthy is one of the most important things we can do for the people we care about as they get older. However, taking care of elderly loved ones can often present challenges as life gets increasingly busy. Navigating the stresses between school or work and making time to take care of loved ones can be uniquely difficult. It is important to remain sensitive to eldery loved ones under your care, however. Depending on others for day-to-day activities is difficult in of itself, and it’s vitally important that you continue handling elderly loved ones with patience, love and kindness.

 

Although taking care of elderly loved ones may seem like a daunting task, in practice you can easily adopt a few habits into your daily routine that will greatly help ensure your elderly loved ones remain safe and cared for. Additionally, you can also consider external support and help in taking care of your loved ones if you feel that you don’t have enough time to do so all on your own. Here are three fantastic tips for how you can take care of the elderly loved ones in your life as best as possible.

 

Visit Loved Ones Frequently

 

One of the most important things you can do when taking care of elderly loved ones is visiting often. As your loved ones get older, many daily activities can become difficult or even dangerous, such as home maintenance tasks or leaving the house. By visiting frequently, you can make sure that the home of your elderly loved ones is safe for them to live in, and help handle tasks such as cleaning or maintenance work. It’s also a good idea to make some routine checks during visits, such as ensuring that elderly loved ones have enough food, and that the mail and laundry aren’t piling up.

 

You can also help your elderly loved ones by simply spending time with them. While leaving the house alone may be difficult for older individuals, they still require the same social and emotional fulfillment that everyone needs. By engaging with elderly loved ones in conversation or activities, you can help them to meet their intellectual and emotional needs.

 

Check Their Medicine

 

While performing home and safety related checks on visits, another important thing you can do to help ensure the health and wellness of elderly individuals is keeping an eye on their medication. It may be difficult for your elderly loved one to visit the pharmacy and refill their prescriptions. It’s vitally important that elderly loved ones take the medicines that doctors have prescribed them, so be sure to regularly check that they still have enough and to refill their prescriptions if needed

 

One way you can help make taking necessary medications easier for your elderly loved ones is by purchasing a pillbox organizer for them, with labeled compartments for when they should take which pills. If your elderly loved one takes several medications, it’s also a good idea to check with a doctor to make sure their medicines can be stored together or taken together safely, and to remain mindful of possible side effects due to the interaction of different medications. 

 

Consider Hiring Help

 

Finally, if you’re finding it difficult to make up enough time to adequately care for your elderly loved one, it might be a good idea to consider hiring some help in order to make sure your elderly loved ones are safe and provided for. This can range from having a nurse check on your elderly loved one every week to hiring full time care, depending on the needs of your loved ones. 

 

Always ensure that you’re hiring help from a licensed and reputable agency. If you can’t afford to hire the help your loved one needs, look into different government programs or benefits that may help alleviate costs. By ensuring that your elderly loved one has the support and help they need, you can make sure they are well cared for.

Setting Up Care

Any time you’re trying to provide for an elderly family member and looking for a place for them to live, there are a lot of considerations to be made. Some of these have to do with the care they’re getting throughout the day, and some have to do with longer-term issues like estate planning or dealing with a legacy property. Others, though, have to do with funding. How do you make sure that the family has the resources that they need to keep a family member in a home?

 

Consultation and Care

 

The short answer is that you can get excellent advice from professional teams who know what they’re doing when it comes to elder care.

 

At River Oaks Homecare, we sit down with families and talk about various funding possibilities, because we feel like this is an important part of how they make decisions. This includes a range of options that the family might not know about unless they’re closely involved in this line of work. So we help to explain – because that’s what we would want others to do for us if we were in that situation. So many things today need specialized attention, where people who are most in the know have to “translate” things  to others, to some extent. With that said, here’s some of what can help families. 

 

Medicaid/Medicare Waivers

 

There are a number of waiver options available in the state of Pennsylvania. We often go over these with families.

 

One is simply an “aging waiver.” This applies to many seniors and can be a source of funding for long-term care.

 

There is also an attentive care waiver for individuals with some disabilities.

 

Another disability-based waiver is the Obra home/community waiver that also provides for disabled persons to stay in a community. This can apply to residential home care or other types of long-term care.

 

A fourth type of waiver is a “Commcare waiver” that applies to individuals with traumatic brain injury.

 

Other Funding

 

If an elderly family member had served in the military at some point, they may be eligible for some types of veteran’s aid or assistance.

 

In other cases, the individual had selected some type of long-term care plan that could help pay the costs of this type of service.

 

Where a family does have to self-pay for part or all of the care, we can help with consulting and ideas about how to get the right solution for a particular family.

 

You can see a lot more on the website for how to make the decisions around care. Reach out and we will help you as much as we can. That’s part of our mission, and a commitment that we make to families. 

 

How To Effectively Communicate With People Who Have Developmental Disabilities

There are over 6 million intellectually disabled individuals in the United States. If you are in charge of providing care for a friend or family member with a developmental disability, you need to learn how to communicate with them effectively. The approach you need to take when communicating with a developmentally disabled person will vary based on the individual. 

Generally, people who act as a caregiver for a developmentally disabled person will have to try a number of approaches before they find an effective way to communicate. Here are some things you need to keep in mind when trying to develop a way to communicate with a developmentally disabled person. 

Provide Clear Explanations

In the beginning stages of your job as a caregiver to a developmentally disabled person, you will be presented with a variety of questions. Generally, the individual in question will want to know why you need to do things like brushing their hair or help them get dressed. When confronted with these questions, you need to provide clear and decisive answers to avoid confusion. 

For instance, if you are trying to brush the hair of a developmentally disabled person, display the motion you will use to accomplish this task on your own hair. If the person wants to know why you need to do this, simply explain to them it is to help them look nice and presentable. This clear explanation and visual representation of what you have to do should be enough to get the developmentally disabled person to comply without any problems occurring. 

Avoid Using Abstract Language

As the caregiver for a developmentally disabled person, you will be in charge of helping with everyday tasks. You also need to help them express how they feel by using concrete language. Rather than asking a developmentally disabled person how they feel, simply ask if they are sad, happy or angry. If the person you are providing care to is attempting to explain something, ask them to show you if you are having a hard time comprehending. 

You also need to provide clear instructions when trying to get a developmentally disabled person to get dressed for an outing. Instead of telling the person to get ready, you need to lay out what they have to do step by step. This will help them clearly understand what is expected of them and will remove any confusion from this situation. 

Visual Aids Can Come in Handy

If you are having trouble communicating with a developmentally disabled person using words, you need to think outside of the box. One of the main things you should try when faced with this problem is visual aids. A developmentally disabled person should be able to grasp a concept better if they have a picture or a gesture to use a reference

Is providing care to a developmentally disabled person starting to wear you out? If so, you need to find out more about the respite care provided by the team at River Oaks Homecare.

How To Prevent Falls In Your Home

How To Prevent Falls In Your Home

Falls in the home can happen at any age, but the chances of serious injury resulting from a fall increase as we age. Six out of every ten falls occur in the home, which makes taking action to prevent falls vital to our wellbeing and the safety of family and friends. Often we tend to move about in our homes without considering the hidden dangers that exist that could cause a fall, but there are changes you can make to your space that will help you avoid accidents and ensure your safety.

Stairways And Hallways

Many stairways have a single-hand railing on one side; however, adding handrails to both sides of the stairs is recommended to prevent falls. Handrailing should be examined regularly to ensure it is tightly fastened and anchored. Use the bars every time you go up and down the stairs, even if you are carrying something in one hand, and ensure that what you are holding doesn’t block your view of the stairs.

Keep your stairways and hallways free from clutter, such as shoes, clothes, and other items. If you have carpets or stair runners, make sure they are firmly affixed to the floor so they won’t slip. While small area rugs are not advised, the use of no-slip strips can help you keep them in place on wooden and tile flooring.

Bathrooms

Installing a hand railing by your shower or tub and next to the toilet will give you something to grip while maneuvering in the bathrooms. Rugs that have rubber no-slip backing are best in these areas, never place towels on the floor to step on as they are prone to cause slipping.

Keep your bathroom well lit at all times; a night light can safely guide you in the middle of the night. Ensure your toiletries and towels are at arm’s length and easy to access; you may choose to use a small shelf or basket system instead of taller above the sink options.

Other Living Spaces

Consider how you move around your home and make sure your paths are free from clutter, cords, and furnishing. Arranging your furniture and everyday objects so that they accommodate an unobstructed pathway around your home is advised, especially for elderly homeowners. Less is more when ensuring your interior spaces areeasily maneuverable, keep clutter and small objects to a minimum.

Quick Fixes To Prevent Falls

Using grabbing sticks can help you reach the items you need that are stored in high spaces. Many people fall due to overreaching or climbing on step stools, so lowering your most needed items to an easier-to-reach height can help prevent a fall. If you live alone or are elderly, consider using an emergency alert system that can call relatives and emergency operators in the event of a fall.

Ways You Can Get Paid for Taking Care of a Senior Loved One

Ways You Can Get Paid for Taking Care of a Senior Loved One

Approximately 65 million Americans serve as caregivers to disabled or ill relatives annually. Caring for a sick relative can be extremely stressful and time-consuming. In some cases, the amount of care your aging relative needs may require you to stop working a full-time job. One of the main problems you face when becoming a full-time caregiver to a family member is the loss of income.

Instead of allowing yourself to get overwhelmed due to a lack of income, you need to seek out ways to get paid for being a caregiver to a senior loved one. Luckily, there are a number of programs designed to help caregivers get money for the services they provide. The following are some of the ways you can get paid for taking care of an elderly loved one.

Check Out the Self-Directed Services Programs Offered By Medicaid

When trying to get money for your caregiving services, one of the first things you need to do is assess your elderly loved one’s eligibility for Medicaid. This government-run healthcare provider has a variety of programs that are designed to help both elderly individuals and their families. The self-directed programs offered by Medicaid allow elderly people who qualify to use the money they are allotted on a variety of pre-approved expenses.

One of the ways this money can be spent is on caregiving services. This means that your elderly loved one will be able to pay you for your time, which can minimize your financial burden. If you want to assess your elderly loved one’s eligibility for these programs, then the best place to start is at your local Medicaid office.

Does Your Employer Offer Paid Leave for Caregivers?

Before you quit your existing job to become a full-time caregiver for an ailing relative, you need to see if temporary paid leave is offered for people in your situation. A recent study found that over 16% of private companies in the United States offered this type of paid leave for their employees.

This is why you need to speak with your employer to find out more about the programs they may have in place. While the paid leave may be for an allotted amount of time, it will still provide you with some form of income during this transitional phase.

Is Your Aging Loved One Eligible For Veterans Aid?

The United States government has created numerous programs over the years to directly help aging veterans. One of these programs, known as the Veteran Directed Care Program, allows veterans to manage their own care. This means that they can use the money from this program to pay a relative that is acting as their caregiver. If your elderly loved one has served in a branch of the Armed Forces, then you need to apply for this program. Contacting your local Veterans Affairs office is the first step in submitting this application.

If you want to find out more about caregiving services and how much they cost, the team at River Oaks Homecare is here to help.

What You Need To Know About the Medicaid Waiver Program

What You Need To Know About the Medicaid Waiver Program

The older you get, the harder you should focus on developing healthy habits. An integral part of being a healthy senior citizen is receiving the medical care you need. Without a comprehensive health insurance policy, you will have tons of out-of-pocket costs. For years, senior citizens around the United States have relied on a government program known as Medicaid to get the health insurance they need. Qualifying for Medicaid and Medicare can be difficult for some people, which is why strides have been made to make this government health insurance program more accessible.

The Medicaid Waiver Program provides states with the ability to tailor-make healthcare options for at-need people in the community. By waiving certain requirements and rules, the wider array of people who actually need healthcare coverage are approved. Here are some things you need to know about the Medicaid Waiver Program and what it offers.

In-Home Care Is Covered Under This Program

As previously mentioned, the federal government has left who gets this type of in-home and community healthcare coverage to the states. With these waivers, people who would not normally qualify for this government healthcare program are granted special access.  Under the guidelines of this program, states are allowed to issues as many waivers as they deem necessary if they meet certain criteria like:

  • The waiver is designed to offer a care-centered plan for the individual
  • The services in question don’t cost more than they would at a hospital or other approved medical establishment
  • The medical services in question will improve a person’s health/welfare

These waivers are generally used for non-medical services like adult daycares, home health aides and personal care assistance. If you or a loved one is in need of home care services, the professionals at River Oaks Home Care are here to help.

Who Is Eligible For These Waivers?

One of the main things most people want to know when they find out about the Medicaid Waiver Program is who is eligible. A variety of states have more than one office that handles these waiver programs and the dispersal of the benefits they offer. You need to realize that not everyone will be able to qualify for this waiver program. The average applicant has to meet various medical criteria before they are approved. In most cases, you will have to prove that your medical condition is so severe that in-home/community care is needed on a consistent basis.

What Do You Need To Apply For One Of These Waivers?

If you are in dire need of in-home care and have no way to pay for it, then applying for a Medicaid Waiver is crucial. While the application process for these waivers will vary from state to state, the information you have to provide to get approved is basically the same.

Ideally, you want to take in a report from your doctor that adequately describes your medical condition and the justification for the in-home/community care you are requesting. If you are ready to start this application process and get the in-home care you need, visit the Medicare/Medicaid website to find out how to contact an office in your state.

If you are curious about how in-home care can benefit you, it’s time to talk to a member of our staff.

Tips for managing caregiving responsibilities among siblings.

Tips for managing caregiving responsibilities among siblings

Caring for aging parents or relatives is no easy responsibility. It can be one of the most challenging roles you play. If you are an only child or relative to a senior and helping them manage care, it can be a heavy burden to bear alone. However, when there are multiple siblings or family members who play a part in care management, the waters can be even trickier to navigate.

Here are three tips for overseeing the care of your aging senior along with siblings or family members.

1) Start early

Benjamin Franklin said it best, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

If you can start discussions with your siblings even before Mom and Dad need a lot of (or any) care, you’ll start off on the right foot. You’ll likely head off many future arguments. 

In many families, when parents start requiring care, the adult children will either fall into their own assumptions about roles of caregiving (for example, the daughter does the caretaking, while the son covers it financially) or play into the “type” they were in childhood (for example, Sarah was the “responsible” child so she takes on care, while Claire was the “spontaneous” one and can’t handle helping at all.)

The problem with this is that it doesn’t take into consideration the current situation, strengths, or abilities of each person. Even if Sarah was the “responsible” one as a child, perhaps now she has a child of her own with disabilities who requires a lot of care.

Even if you can start the conversation of “What do you think taking care of Mom and Dad would look like for us?” that will set you up for future discussions. When the time comes for a serious plan to be put in place, you should arrange a family meeting with all those who would be involved (siblings, close friends, other relatives). 

When examining the situation and deciding solutions, be as specific as possible. Write down all the responsibilities and requirements of caregiving. When you’re deciding who should do what, be sure to take into account your own strengths, abilities, and limitations.

Another topic to review early on is any legal documents or decisions your parents have already made, such as a living will (also known as a healthcare direction) or power of attorney, and whether or not a will has been completed. It’s also important to know the location of these documents.

The key to everything is communication. One meeting or conversation is not enough. It’s an on-going process.

2) Develop your self-awareness

When it comes to caregiving, especially when it’s your own parents, there are a lot of emotions involved. Adjusting to the role reversal is difficult for most adult children, then added on are the everyday stresses of “normal life”, too. So, you’ll be experiencing a range of emotions, and then have to work together with other people, who you may be very close with or not so much. This situation is a stimulus for arguments.

Without being aware of and understanding your own emotions, you will simply react according to what your feelings tell you. This leads to acting out, yelling, blaming, and possibly even disengagement. None of these are productive for helping your loved one get the care they need.

Ask yourself questions about why you feel a certain way and what else might be causing it. Perhaps some old sibling rivalries are coming out again. Some clues that you might be acting out of feelings or fighting old battles include using phrases such as “You always do this!” or criticizing the way a sibling feels, such as “You donʼt care anything about Mom.” 
In these moments, in order to be able to switch to a more productive discussion, you have to be able to identify, pause, and adjust your mind and words. It’s a simple reminder, but try to pause and breath before you say the next thing. Then refocus back on the question or goal at hand.

If you find yourself really struggling, such as every discussion with your siblings turns into a heated argument, you might want to consider professional help. Even if your family doesn’t want to go to therapy together, going alone for yourself can be tremendously constructive. There is no shame in asking for help. When you are better able to manage yourself, your parents will win as well.

3) Discuss with your family how you will address problems

For someone who is conscientious and self-aware, it might come as a surprise to learn that not everyone is proactive about fixing or improving relationships. For example, many people just assume, “That’s just the way Sally is.” or “This is just how we interact.” It may never occur to them that if two people don’t get along they can take steps to improve their interactions.

As you get started on this caregiving journey, it could be helpful to ask your siblings, “If a problem arises among us, how should we resolve it?” You could also approach it as, “What would be the best way for me to discuss a problem with you?” showing that your primary concern is their feelings.

If you feel like you don’t make progress with that strategy, you could simply demonstrate it by saying, “If at any point you feel frustrated or hurt by something that I’ve done, please let me know so that I can correct it or not do it again.”

Another consideration is how each family member will alert the others about problems and how solutions will be made. For example, if you’re at an appointment with your Dad, and the doctor notices a decline and wants to adjust medication or treatment, how will you communicate it to your siblings? How will a decision be made? If you have established the process (for example, first you alert the others by sending an email to everyone providing the basic information, and then a family call or meeting is scheduled), there will be no surprises. No one will be left out. Furthermore, when people know what to look for, they’ll be less likely to miss important communications.

As humans, we’re bound to have disagreements, and in caregiving, there will almost definitely be problems. By addressing the situation early on, being aware of your emotions, and developing a process for resolving issues, you and your siblings will be better able to keep your focus on your parents and helping them to be as healthy and happy as possible.

If you have a senior living alone or far away, it’s likely that you feel concerned about their safety. Even with the diligence of several siblings taking care of mom and dad, it’s important to help reduce risks and increase safety in their living space. You can use our Senior At-Home Safety Checklist, which is a free comprehensive home safety checklist that will help you systematically go through each area of the home to check for common hazards and make sure the proper safety measures are in place. 
If you think your parents or relative would benefit from non-medical in-home care, you can learn more about our services here.

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1Russo, Francine. (2011). Caregiving with Your Siblings: As a Family, Carefully Consider—or Reconsider—the Caregiving Responsibilities. Family Caregiver Alliance. https://www.agingcare.com/articles/sibling-relationships-resolving-issues-while-caring-for-parents-2 03842.htm 

2 Family Caregiver Alliance. (2003). Holding a Family Meeting. https://www.caregiver.org/holding-family-meeting
3 National Institute on Aging. (May 09, 2017). How to Share Caregiving Responsibilities with Family Members.h ttps://www.nia.nih.gov/health/how-share-caregiving-responsibilities-family-members
 

4 Samuels, Claire. (April 25, 2020). How to Stop Family Disputes Over Elderly Parents: End-of-life care and inheritance conflicts emerge https://www.aplaceformom.com/caregiver-resources/articles/family-disputes
5 Bradley Bursack, Carol. (2016). Sibling Relationships: Resolving Issues While Caring for Parents: The Powerful Emotions Involved in Caregiving. https://www.agingcare.com/articles/sibling-relationships-resolving-issues-while-caring-for-parents-2 03842.htm
 

6 Russo, Francine. (2011). Caregiving with Your Siblings: Clues That You Are Acting out of Emotional Needs or Fighting Old Battles . https://www.agingcare.com/articles/sibling-relationships-resolving-issues-while-caring-for-parents-2 03842.htm 

7 ibid

Helping your senior loved one use technology

Have you ever sat in the cockpit of a plane? Or perhaps you can picture a movie scene of a pilot sitting in the chair, flicking on switches, turning knobs, preparing for take-off.

As an outsider, someone who isn’t a pilot, your reaction to looking at the dashboard of a plane is probably something of overwhelm. What do all those buttons, knobs, lights, and screens even mean? How can anyone make sense of this?!

If you ever were sat down in front of this dashboard and told to operate it, you probably wouldn’t even know where to begin.

Well, for many seniors, this is the experience of using a computer or tablet or smartphone. 

Technology is a wonderful tool. This year has shown us the amazing ways that the internet and all these gadgets can not only keep us connected but also keep us working and learning.

However, many seniors haven’t taken advantage of these benefits of technology because the learning curve is so steep. What is disheartening about this is that right now seniors are the population most in need of new ways to stay in touch with friends and family.

The outlook doesn’t have to be so bleak, however, because it is possible for seniors to learn how to use technology and thus stay in touch with the people who love them. 

If you have a senior in your life who lives alone or lives further away or who simply doesn’t want to go out or have visitors right now, here are tips for teaching them how to use technology.

  1. Keep it simple. 

While you may enjoy replying to emails, setting your fantasy lineup for the week, checking the weather, and crushing candy to pass time all on your phone, your senior loved one probably doesn’t need to do all those things. 

When you are selecting a device for them, keep it simple. It’s better to go with a device that does a core set of functionality well and is reliable over one that can do everything but is more complicated. The main things that a senior might want to do with a device are make video calls, receive pictures, listen to music, and play basic games. Making and receiving video calls is probably the most important, so focus on that and find a device that can use a software that is very straightforward.

  1. Don’t assume anything.

The number one mistake people make when teaching a senior to use technology is that they assume a base level of technical knowledge. For people who have used computers for years, or even their whole life, they forget that it’s not just “second nature”, it’s something they learned.

Even something as “basic” as how to use a mouse might need to be explained. Some other commonly mistaken “second nature” understandings about devices are:

  • Overlapping windows. When a new screen appears, it’s not always understood that other screens are below it.
  • Nested menus. The fact that there are more options listed under the word “File” might have to be explained.
  • Power off versus sleep mode. This is important if you want your senior to be able to receive calls, which means the device has to be on. Many seniors will assume they need to turn it all the way off to preserve battery life.
  • Storage. Be sure to explain how they can access and use different things on the device, such as pictures or word documents.

The key is to ask if they are understanding and to keep things in everyday terms. Analogies will be very helpful in explaining these new concepts.

  1. Be mindful of physical differences.

The thing about aging is that it affects both the mind and body. Many seniors struggle with using their fingers due to arthritis or other diseases. A touchscreen device may not be best because maybe their hand shakes or they don’t have enough strength to hold up their arm. A more traditional computer with a mouse might be better. 

Hearing is another area to consider. If they use hearing aids, be mindful of the levels and frequencies of sound coming from the device. Ask the senior if it sounds okay for them.

  1. Have patience.

Above all, it’s important to have patience. It might be frustrating to have to explain something multiple times and on multiple occasions. If you feel yourself getting agitated, just remember the plane’s dashboard and consider how long it would take you to understand that.

You are probably busy and have errands to run or work to do, but just remember the benefits of what you’re enabling them to do. You’re giving them access to a whole new world. Loneliness is not just an emotional concern, but it can also lead to other significant health issues in seniors. By empowering them to use technology, you are enriching their life and increasing their overall well-being.

If you have a senior living alone or far away, it’s likely that you feel concerned about their safety. To help reduce risks and increase safety in their living space, you can also use our Senior At-Home Safety Checklist. Our free comprehensive home safety checklist will help you systematically go through each area of the home to check for common hazards and make sure the proper safety measures are in place. 

Download this checklist once and use it over again periodically to make sure your loved one’s home stays as safe as possible.