Here are some things you should consider for your aging parent:
Grab Bars, Grab Bars, Grab Bars
Did I mention grab bars? Bathrooms are a huge fall risk! Depending on the shower design (walk-in versus tub/shower combo), you’ll need some outside the shower, insider the shower, and near the camode as well. The other place that is prone to falls in near doors and thresholds. Go ahead and put a grab bar near any place with one or two steps or where the floor is uneven.
Hire a handyman to install them, or if you’re handy, I found some really helpful how-to’s on Lowes.com. Then of course, YouTube! undoubtedly has videos as well.
And I’d try to get grab bars installed BEFORE there is an immediate need.
Fall Alarm Or Amazon Alexa?
So I’ve had two family members fall and be stranded where they can’t callout for help. Fortunately, both eventually got the help they needed. The fear of it happening again, for everyone, is terrible. Fall alarms and monitoring services are a great idea, but they require the person to carry with them a bracelet or lanyard, plus there is a cost associated with the monitoring each month. I am experimenting with Amazon Echos for my Dad. One, I can get him on board with that, and two, he can say, “Alexa, text Chris Help.”
I am putting an Echo/Dot in the bedroom, family room, and the bathroom.
**UPDATE** Alexa cannot dial out to emergency services. With that said, my dad is enjoying his virtual assistants, sometimes too much. The only “kink” we’ve had in the system was that one night my internet was out and he had sent me a message (*non-emergency*) the night before. I didn’t know I had it until I got to my office. I told him we need to be sure my sisters are added in there as contacts as well.
Don’t let your parent stumble in the dark.
The cost of smart home technology has come down over the past couple years. I use the Alexa, and the smart plugs by eTek. There is an app you use on your phone to set it all up. No monthly service fees, and they can be voice controlled.
I make sure, at a minimum, I have a light in the family room and one in the bedroom on voice control. The voice commands based on location seem to be the easiest to remember.
A tablet has many uses. One, it is a cost alternative to a full computer with almost identical functionality. Two, it avoids the collection of physical clutter. Both of my parents subscribe to print publications – newspapers and magazines. Old issues begin to collect. Before long, we’ve got a couple years worth of some publications and now we’re dealing with getting rid of them. Switch it over to an electronic subscription, problem solved. Also, there are all kind of fun games and apps that can keep brains occupied.
Keep in mind, while we may be able to use smart phones with ease, folks need bigger screens as they age.
Apps That Make Life Easier!
I’ve been using Instacart for a few years now. It is a grocery delivery service. Enter the delivery address, then you can choose what store you want the shopping done at. Put together your cart and usually within a couple hours, the order is delivered to your parent’s home.
For rides to and from events/doctor appointments, I set up a separate Uber profile on my phone for my mom. I entered all of her favorites then tied her credit card in for payment. It made sorting out expenses worlds easier. Also, you can schedule Uber pickups. So if she had an 11:30am appointment, I told her to be outside at 11:00am which is when the Uber would come.
There is nothing worse than going to check on someone and not be able to get in the front door. I put a Schlage code lock handle on the front door. That way I don’t need to carry a separate set of keys everywhere I go. And, if your parent loses keys, there is still access to the house.
Health Care Power of Attorney – HCPOA
In the State of Ohio, there is really no reason not to have one. They are free. Get yours off the Franklin County Probate Court’s website – here. It is a pretty simple form to fill out. This is the recognized form that complies with Ohio law.
Proper Estate Plan
For the vast majority of people, estate plans are really simple! Encourage your parent to sit down and talk to a trusted advisor to go over an estate plan. Should something happen, everyone will be happy there is no headache caused by a lack of preparedness.