Guide to Elder Care Planning and Family Meetings

Businesses often approach tough issues by scheduling a meeting of those most knowledgeable and concerned. Successful academic departments at every prestigious university hold monthly meetings. Governments can break through imponderable dilemmas via well-planned and appropriately attended meetings.

Overcoming Barriers to Holding a Family Meeting

There are various barriers, real and imagined. Geography is a big one-often families are widely dispersed across the country. Lives are already busy and often over scheduled without adding yet another commitment. Paid caregivers might not want to donate their time to ponder the issues; families may feel it is too expensive to pay them for meeting time. Also, it's easy to think, "My sister would never agree to a meeting." But have you asked her? Families can be so heavily burdened by the responsibilities of caregiving that it might be surprising what people will readily agree to if it might be an improvement on the status quo.

Bringing the family and support network together to discuss a loved one's changing situation and available options is a crucial step in elder care planning and making appropriate choices

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Sensors Help Keep the Elderly Safe, and at Home

Increasingly, many older people who live alone are not truly alone. They are being watched by a flurry of new technologies designed to enable them to live independently and avoid expensive trips to the emergency room or nursing homes.

Bertha Branch, 78, discovered the power of a system called eNeighbor when she fell to the floor of her Philadelphia apartment late one night without her emergency alert pendant and could not phone for help.

A wireless sensor under Ms. Branch’s bed detected that she had gotten up. Motion detectors in her bedroom and bathroom registered that she had not left the area in her usual pattern and relayed that information to a central monitoring system, prompting a call to her telephone to ask if she was all right. When she did not answer, that incited more calls — to a neighbor, to the building manager and finally to 911, which dispatched firefighters to break through her door. She had been on the floor less than an hour when they arrived.

Technologies like eNeighbor come with great promise of improved care at lower cost and the backing of large companies like Intel and General Electric.

But the devices, which can be expensive, remain largely unproven and are not usually covered by the government or private insurance plans. Doctors are not trained to treat patients using remote data and have no mechanism to be paid for doing so. And like all technologies, the devices — including motion sensors, pill compliance detectors and wireless devices that transmit data on blood pressure, weight, oxygen and glucose levels — may have unintended consequences, substituting electronic measurements for face-to-face contact with doctors, nurses and family members.

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Hoarding and the Elderly: How to Help Them Declutter

We inherit a lot from our parents, their traits, their looks and even their stuff -- perhaps too much of their stuff.

Clutter is a growing problem today among all populations, including the elderly. To help your parents pare down, downsize, create more room in their home and/or make it safer to age in place, it is important to note the difference between hoarders and clutterers. Hoarders are obsessive about their stuff and will often need a trained professional specializing in obsessive compulsive disorder to let go. Clutterers, the more common type, are more apt to let go with a little encouragement and support.

Dr. April Benson, the founder of, says that "letting go reminds them that they are closer to the end of their lives and many older people want to hold on. Explaining that letting go does not always signal loss but can also mean making space for something, is a good way to ease anxiety."

Keeping in mind that items people don't want to let go of represent history and legacy, you can try the following suggestions to get people to part with them:

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Refer a Friend

Know someone who can use a hand? We can speak privately with your family or friends about how we can help. We have caregivers all over.

It starts with a complimentary consultation where we meet with the family to see what the greatest needs are and to set goals for daily living. We can meet in your home, your friend's home, or our offices - whatever is most convenient. Senior Helpers makes life easier.

Please call us.
If you are already our client we will give you $100 credit toward services when your friend has received 40 hours of service from Senior Helpers!

Thanks for taking the time to read and learn!

Senior Helpers team

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