Call me neurotic, but every once in a while, I hesitate before heading down our steep basement stairs with an overflowing basket of laundry. I don’t hesitate because I have vision loss or a mobility issue, I hesitate because I work at home -- alone. If something happened, I couldn’t count on my two Boston Terriers -- smart as I think they are -- to call 911.
Flash forward a couple decades. My vision is not what it used to be, and my balance isn’t great either, which means that simple tasks like making lunch, going out to get the mail, or walking upstairs to the bathroom are even more risky than when I was a thirty-something who worked at home alone. My children and grandchildren worry about me and call often. They haven't mentioned a senior living community, though I know they’re hoping I’ll bring it up myself.
This imagined scenario is an all-too-common reality for many of today's families (there are over 65 million caregivers in the US alone). After an older loved one loses a spouse/partner, when caregiving for a spouse becomes more difficult, or as the individual's ability to manage household tasks and daily care routines seems to suffer, the thought of that person/couple at home -- without help -- is a worrisome one for family members.
And the battle between the family's desire for safety and the senior's desire for independence begins...
Before jumping into a discussion about assisted living, home care, or moving Mom & Dad into your home, consider other options for keeping your senior loved one where he/she wants to be. A home safety system is a good place to start, not only for the family's peace of mind but for the senior's communication needs, whether it's a caregiving/medical emergency or a call to friends for a dinner invite. (Social health is just as important as physical health for seniors; isolation, loneliness and depression may be the underlying causes of declining wellness and the ability to manage every day tasks.)
An easy-to-use model is the VTech CarelineTM Home Safety Telephone System, which includes a home phone (both a corded and cordless option) and a wearable pendant phone (either as a belt clip or lanyard) so the senior can stay connected in the way that he/she prefers best. Also, since seniors and technology don't always get along, this traditional model may be preferred over a more complex computer-based one.
Learn more about the special features of the VTech Careline system here. For information and insights on what comes next in caring for the seniors in your life, check out the blogs listed on my Resources page, or contact me for elder care coaching services.
Author's note: I wrote this blog post while participating in a campaign by BOOMboxNetwork.com on behalf VTech Communications, Inc. and received payment for my participation. All opinions stated within are my own.