If you’re a caregiver, you need to know that there are many resources for you. Some are gadgets that can help you monitor a senior's safety when you're not with them. Others are support services or places you may not know about.
For John MacInnes, the beginnings of Alzheimer’s disease were startling. The retired executive and former pastor in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., first realized something was wrong as he was delivering a PowerPoint presentation to a community group. “Then in mid-sentence, I had problems,” he says. “I had a well-rehearsed script in front of me, but I couldn’t get the words right, couldn’t get them out. That kind of shook me up.”
Memory loss and impaired thinking are hallmark symptoms of this disease...
Wearable GPS trackers can tell a senior's exact location. Devices a person wears can send an alert if the person falls. Phone apps can track medications and doctors’ appointments. "Smart home" wireless monitoring can tell if a door is left open or there's smoke in the house. Software can connect caregivers who are sharing support.
Yes, technology can be a huge help in caregiving.
This grassroots approach builds a network of support for people who want to keep living in their own homes, or "age in place." Members pay a fee (typically a few hundred dollars a year) for services that may range from transportation to home maintenance. It means older people don’t have to call on family and friends for help all the time.
About three out of four caregivers have had a paying job at some time while caregiving, too. More and more workplaces are recognizing their needs. Ask your employer if your job has programs in place, including things like flexible working hours or telecommuting. Your company may also help you find skilled nursing help or other support.
There are many other places you can turn for help:
Care managers -- A geriatric care manager is a hired nurse or social worker who looks at a family’s caregiving situation and helps plan, coordinate, and monitor care. They can help with a one-time assessment or manage care long-term.
Companion care services -- These provide people who come into the home and help with daily life. Services can range from preparing meals and giving baths to sorting mail and paying bills. They may also do housework and make sure your loved one eats and exercises.
Skilled care – Professionals, usually nurses or physical or occupational therapists, come to the home to provide health care. This might include giving medications, taking care of wounds, and giving shots.