Monthly Archives: June 2014

How a CAPS Certified Home Builder Can Help Your Aging Parent

When your parents begin aging at home, the best defense is a good offense- by that, we mean having a strong plan in place to help your parent age comfortably and safely at home. That’s where CAPS Certified Home Builders come in.

How a CAPS Certified Home Builder Can Help Your Aging Parent home access products

CAPS stands for Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist, and as America continues to get older (88 million people will be over 60 in the next 15 years, according to the AARP), CAPS home builders are becoming more prevalent, especially considering that recent studies show that the vast majority of aging homeowners prefer to age in place.

CAPS home builders are specifically trained to analyze a homeowner’s needs and propose a project that will meet those needs in a professional, aesthetically pleasing design. They use thoughtful remodeling techniques to help homeowners age in their homes comfortably and at an affordable cost. Outside of just design, the CAPS professionals maintain high codes of ethics and building standards, as well as going through continuing education to stay up to date on the latest in aging at home design and functionality.

When you begin to consider at CAPS home builder, you will want to be aware of what kind of modifications the CAPS professional will offer you. The CAPS professional will focus on increasing access and maneuverability in areas such as the bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom. Some options may including installing bath and shower grab bars, installing bath tub lifts, adjusting countertop heights, creating a first floor master suite, and installing stair lifts. It may be helpful to take a survey to analyze how livable and age-friendly your home is, such as the one offered by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

Before you meet with a CAPS builder (you can find a local CAPS professional here), it’s important to consider all of the aspects of your home redesign. Outline a budget for any modifications, and select a professional with plenty of experience with your specific kind of remodel (ask family and friends for referrals if possible). Consider whether you’ll need a home equity loan or if you want your remodel to increase the energy efficiency of your home.

Also, think about what specific modifications you’ll need for your home. Some of these options may include:

  • Adding a bathroom/bedroom to the first floor
  • Making your kitchen more functional
  • Preventing falls
  • Widening doorways
  • Installing lever handles on doors
  • Modifying the heights of counters and light switches

The more prepared you are when meeting with a CAPS professional, the more the professional will be able to help meet all of your needs.

It’s important to get a home modification project started sooner rather than later; this way, you’ll save money and you’ll have more time to ensure that everything you need gets done, instead of waiting until something happens to an aging homeowner (such as a slip in a bathtub or an injury that will make it difficult to get around the home). By working with a CAPS certified home builder to create an age-friendly home using home access products, you can ensure that your aging parent is comfortable and can safely live in their home for years to come.

Less Stress for an Aging Parent Living at Home

Caring for an aging parent can be a stressful process. You may worry about their health, the future, and whether they’re getting the care they need. While these concerns are valid, there are ways to reduce your stress and ensure that you’re doing all you can to help your parents age comfortably at home.

home access products less stress for an aging parent living at home

First, make a plan for the changes you can anticipate. Although it may be emotional, have a conversation with your parents about their current and future healthcare needs. Topics you may wish to address include the accessibility of your parents’ home, a nutrition and exercise plan, medical needs, a living will, finances, health insurance, and a health care proxy.

You may initially think that the easiest way to plan for your parents’ aging is to relocate them either closer to you or to a nursing home; however, that’s not usually the case. You may be spending unnecessary money to move your parents from a comfortable environment where they have friends, a community, and a happy life. Also, if your aging parent is beginning to show signs of dementia, moving them from a familiar environment may worsen their symptoms. (Learn more about the advantages of aging at home rather than in a nursing home.)

Next, evaluate the safety of your parents’ home. Making home modifications for aging parents is much easier when you’ve planned ahead rather than after an incident such as a slip or a fall. Pay attention to stairs, the bathtub or shower, the toilet, lighting, and the accessibility of everyday items like clothes, food, and dishes. Thinking ahead to prevent slips and falls in your aging parents’ home will help reduce your stress by knowing that you’ve made your parents’ home as safe as possible.

Also, don’t be afraid to share the workload. It’s not always easy to ask for help, but in the long run, it will help keep your stress in check and it may even help your parents feel a sense of community around them as they age. If you have siblings or other relatives, speak with them about helping your parents. Help may also come from neighbors, a local church, an in-home caregiving service, or friends of your parents. Having a trusted group of people to help your parents age comfortably can help take much of the weight off of your shoulders.

You may also wish to utilize technology to better help you take care of your parents. From medicine dispensers to easy communication methods to home safety and alert systems, technology has become a very helpful tool to help you and your parents stay connected, safe, and healthy.

And finally, remember to take care of yourself as well. Caring for an aging parent can take a significant amount of time, and keeping yourself physically and emotionally healthy will help you maintain a low stress level. Some common signs of caregiver stress include anger, social isolation, anxiety, depression, exhaustion, irritability, and sleep/health problems. If you see these signs in your life, take note, and work to become healthier through good nutrition, exercise, leisure time, and possibly talking to a trusted friend or counselor.

Throughout your parents’ aging, make sure that they know you are there for them. By remaining patient and supportive throughout the process, you’ll help your parents feel comfortable while aging at home, and at the same time, you’ll experience less stress in the process. To learn more about how Home Access Products can help your aging parent age comfortably at home, please call us today.

How to Prevent Slips and Falls in Your Parent’s Home

When your parent(s) begin to age, a major concern about their health is the possibility of a dangerous slip or fall in their home. One in three adults over 65 falls each year, and the resulting health problems can range in severity from minor scrapes and bruises to hip fractures or head trauma. Luckily, slips and falls are largely preventable. Here are a few tips on how to prevent falls in aging adults.

elderly couple walking prevent falls home access products

Encourage your aging parents to exercise regularly. The exercise does not have to be strenuous, but fitness activities that focus on improving leg strength and balance are helpful for aging adults. Walking, water workouts, and tai chi all utilize slow, graceful movements to improve strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility. A doctor can help recommend an exercise program or set your aging adult up with a licensed physical therapist for a custom exercise program.

Buy your aging parents sensible shoes. Suggest that your parents avoid high heels, floppy slippers, and slick-soled shoes that may increase the likelihood of a stumble. Instead, for birthdays and holidays, give your parents well-fitting, reliable shoes with non-skid soles that help maintain traction.

Ask their doctor or pharmacist to review their medications. Certain medications (such as sedatives and some kinds of antidepressants) may have side effects that increase the risk of falling, such as dizziness or drowsiness. A doctor can help review medications for these possible interactions and advise you and your parents on all options.

Ensure that your aging parent gets his or her eyes checked by an eye doctor annually. Eyeglasses or contacts prescriptions should be updated to optimize your parents’ vision. It may be helpful to get a pair of glasses with single vision distance lenses for seeing clearly in the distance or for reading objects up close.

Install home access products that help reduce falling and slipping hazards. There are many affordable, easy-to-install options to help keep your parents’ home safe for walking. Some of these assistive devices and home access products include handrails for stairs, nonslip treads for wooden steps, a toilet lift, grab bars and nonslip mats for the shower or tub, and a bath lift (for more information on the benefits of installing a bathtub lift, read our previous blog post here).

Remove hazardous materials from your parents’ home. Examples of such materials include clutter on the floor, loose rugs (which can be secured with double-stick tape) or floorboards, and electrical cords in high-traffic areas on the floor. You can also modify your parents’ home by storing clothing, dishes, food, and other important items within easy reach and immediately cleaning any spilled liquids, grease, or food.

Improve the lighting. Lighting up your parents’ home will help them avoid tripping on items that are difficult to see. Night lights can be placed in the bedrooms, bathrooms, and hallways, and lamps should be within reach of the bed for getting up in the middle of the night. Light switches should also be near stairs, and flashlights should be stored in easy-to-find places in case the power goes out.

 

Although slips and falls are hazardous to aging adults, with a little preparation and a few simple home modifications, you can help keep your parents safe by preventing falls in your parents’ home. For more information, please call us, and we’ll answer any of your questions.

Top Home Tech for Seniors [INFOGRAPHIC]

With innovations in health care, medicine, and nutrition, it’s no surprise that Americans are getting older. By 2030, nearly 20% of Americans will be over 65– and nearly 90% of them want to stay in their own homes as they age.

As aging in place continues to rise, seniors are increasingly looking towards technology to stay safe and connected. From personal alert systems to cell phones and tablets, seniors are embracing technology and all of its benefits. Whether aging seniors are tech-savvy, or prefer simple ways of communicating at home, these products and services can assist seniors with safety, entertainment, health/wellness, communication, and assistance.

Many of the most convenient technologies can be free, such as the Skype App for iPad (which allows users to make video or voice calls) or the Tek Partner Universal Remote Control (which is a large remote control with large buttons to help users read the buttons easily).

Other popular and useful technologies for a low price include the 5Star Medical Device Alert and Splash ($49.95), which allows users to connect with an agent who can provide help in dangerous situations, and the Jitterbug Cell Phone ($99 plus monthly calling plans), which is an easy-to-use cell phone for the visually impaired. For seniors and caregivers concerned about medication maintenance, the TabSafe dispenses and monitors use of medication, and it sends alerts to caregivers if the medication is refused or not taken. As an added bonus, the TabSafe is often covered by insurance and runs less than $100 a month for monitoring services.

One especially versatile piece of technology for seniors is the Apple iPad ($299 and up). With a larger screen than a cell phone and an easy-to-use touch screen interface, seniors and caregivers can download a wide variety of apps for entertainment, communication, and assistance.

For families who live far away from their senior or aren’t always able to communicate, there are many options for home safety systems for seniors aging at home.  The BeClose (prices starting at $399) uses wireless sensors to detect activity and send alerts if there is a sudden lack of activity. Similarly, MobileHelp (prices starting at $443.50) is a dual-use emergency contact device, using a mobile, GPS-connected emergency button that can provide information on someone’s location even if they are unable to communicate.

Technology for seniors aging at home can also help improve communication and cooking safety. The Telikin (starting at $699) is a senior-friendly computer system with software for communication pre-installed. For seniors who enjoy home-cooked meals, the Safe-T-Element cooking system (starting at $240) is a temperature-sensing plate system that is installed over stove burners and will automatically shut off the stove if dangerous temperatures are reached.

As America continues to age, these technologies will continue to help seniors age in place comfortably. Whether you’re a senior who wants to be able to use the television remote easily or you’re a caregiver who wants peace of mind knowing that your loved one is safe in their home, there’s a piece of technology that can help seniors, family, and caregivers to stay safe, in touch, and happy in your home.

*Products and prices may vary. Price and source information was gathered in May 2014. Check manufacturer websites for up-to-date information. home access products top tech for seniors and caregivers


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