Medical Alert Devices to the Rescue

Medical Alert DeviceVeteran journalist Daniel Schorr was putting his shoes on when the stool collapsed, slamming his head into the bedroom door frame at his Washington, D.C., home. Bleeding profusely, he called out to his wife several times, but she was making breakfast downstairs with the radio on and didn’t hear him.

Schorr, then 93 and a senior news analyst for National Public Radio, pushed the button on his medical emergency alert pendant. Within seconds his wife, Lisbeth, 79, received a call from a George Washington University Hospital operator who said, “We got an alert signal. Is anything wrong?” Lisbeth ran upstairs and found Daniel lying in a growing pool of blood. The operator stayed on the line while Lisbeth stanched the bleeding enough to help her husband into the car and to the emergency room.

The device really proved its worth, says Lisbeth, recalling that morning in April 2010, three months before her husband’s death from unrelated causes. He had worn it every day for several years. “The kids and I insisted,” she says, referring to the couple’s two grown children. “He was getting frail. That caused us to worry.”

Personal emergency alert devices can help older adults to remain independent and in their own homes. The devices also are reassuring to adult children who know that if an aging parent suffers a fall or, worse, a stroke or heart attack, immediate help and medical attention will be summoned.

But doctors, aging experts and even company officials emphasize that while medical alert systems can save lives, the key to their success is a motivated user. The much-mimicked “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” TV commercials raised awareness of the problem but also created a stigma, they say.

Falling and the fear of falling

Falls among older people are a huge problem. More than one in three adults 65 and older will fall in a given year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two-thirds will fall again within six months. Falls can result in debilitating injuries such as broken hips and head trauma. Moreover, people who fall and lie helpless for hours or days can suffer serious complications, including dehydration, hypothermia, pressure ulcers, muscle breakdown and renal failure, says geriatrician and associate professor Bruce Kinosian, of the University of Pennsylvania.

The elderly mother of Ventura County, Calif., psychiatrist Marc Rosenthal, 58, was discovered alone in her bedroom, dehydrated, injured and barely conscious a full day after she suffered a fall and stroke last June.

Because of the delayed discovery, “she had missed the window in which strokes can be aggressively treated to minimize or counter the effects of interrupted blood flow to the brain,” Dr. Rosenthal says. His mother, who before the stroke had no serious health conditions, now lives with him and his wife.

Credit: AARP Blog

National Senior Health & Fitness Day

National Senior Health & Fitness DayMay 29, 2013 marked the 20th Annual National Senior Health and Fitness Day, with events going on throughout the nation at health clubs, senior centers retirement communities, hospitals, the YMCA, and many additional community locations. This year’s theme is “Think Healthy, Eat Healthy, Act Healthy Be Healthy”, and seniors are encouraged to participate in activities that help the mind and body. Activities included walking events, low-impact exercises, health screenings and health information workshops.

According to the Fitness Day organization, National Senior Health and Fitness Day is the nation’s largest health event for seniors and yesterday saw more than 100,000 older adults participate at local events at more than 1,000 locations across the United States on the same day. We hope that you were able to take advantage of an event in your area.

Missed the event this year? The National Senior Health & Fitness Day is always held on the last Wednesday in May in support of Older Americans Month and National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.

Long Term Care Planning

November is full of awareness – diabetes, lung cancer/COPD, The Great American Smoke Out, and Alzheimer’s.  BUT did you know it is also Long-Term Care Planning month?

Do you have a long-term care plan in place for your loved ones? For yourself?  There are many websites available to help you make these decisions and I will link you to several at the end of this post.

Some of the key points to think about would include family history, did your grandma have Alzheimer’s? Was there cancer issues in your family tree?  Do you prefer to have someone stay with you in your home? Do you want your children to care for you? Perhaps you also need to discuss finances and possibly meet with a financial planner in order to set up a trust or estate account rather than keeping in your name or your loved one’s name.

There is an increase in technological devices to help you or your loved one stay at home longer, obviously one of those would be our life assist system, which consists of a base unit that contacts our call center and a button that is worn on the wrist or around the neck to signal the base unit.  There are also a wide variety of scooters, chair lifts, and medicine reminders available for use.  These are all things that people might need a little help with as they get older.

What else have you seen on the market that would be useful as we age?

National Clearing House for Long-Term Care Information – http://www.longtermcare.gov/LTC/Main_Site/Index.aspx

Medicare’s Long-Term Care page – http://www.medicare.gov/longtermcare/static/home.asp

National Care Planning Council – http://www.longtermcarelink.net/

Care Conversations – http://careconversations.org/home.aspx

October 29th – World Psoriasis Day

Today is World Psoriasis Day – do you or someone you know suffer from this chronic skin condition?  There are more treatments available now and there are groups working together to bring more awareness and help for those that suffer from psoriasis.

According to psoriasis.org the National Psoriasis Foundation has put together a 5-point action plan in order to bring about better treatments and possibly a cure for this painful disease. They are gather funds to support new and innovative research, along with being able to hire more research scientists.  They are also working to provide DNA samples in order to attempt to discover any specific genes that may predetermine someone getting psoriasis.  Finally they are working with policymakers to increase government investments and encouraging patients to participate in research studies and clinical trials.

Psoriasis is not contagious, it is the most common autoimmune disease and can cause skin discoloration and flaky skin.  There are five different types of psoriasis, the most common being plaque psoriasis.  This is most commonly found on elbows, knees, scalp and lower back.

For more information or to find out how you can help find better treatments and maybe even the cure for psoriasis, go to http://www.psoriasis.org/

Winter Weather Cautions

I woke up this morning to a surprise!  Yesterday’s rainy, nasty weather left me icy steps.  My gutter drips right onto the outside staircase and it freezes up.  Now, for me I can quickly side step the slippery spot but my dad doesn’t move as fast and he could have been hurt on those steps.

This lead me to want to remind our readers that the onset of winter weather is going to require some extra attention.  It is time to get the salt out again, have a small scoop that you can carry with you as you go down your steps.  This can help you as the salt will immediately give you traction as it starts to melt the ice.  If you live in an apartment complex, you may want to check with maintenance or the front office to find out how early they are out to salt and clear the parking lot and try to make your plans accordingly so that you have the least worries about getting out and about safely.

Another neat trick that I learned from a dear friend is to keep the snow and ice off your windshield.  She has a nice blue tarp that you can pick up at any hardware store, you fold it in half and place the folded corners inside the passenger side and driver side doors. Then to hold it down you take two half-gallon or gallon jugs with water in them, tie a small piece of rope through the handles and through the holes at the other end of the tarp (the grommets).  This will keep the tarp down, it covers your wipers too keeping those nice and clean!  It’s much easier and safer to take this tarp off and put it in your car in the morning than it is to have to clear snow and ice.

What are your tips and tricks to make the winter safer for you and your loved ones?

~Carrie