Tech Savvy Seniors

The use of technology has grown tremendously among the senior population in recent years.  More and more seniors are using smart phones, tablets and computers to stay informed, connect with others and even shop.

According to widely known Eden Alternative, common concerns amongst our elder population have been that they become bored, lonely and have a general feeling of helplessness. Advances in technology have provided many avenues to combat these issues have proven to be a true blessing for many senior community residents.

Maplewood Senior Living prides itself in staying ahead of the curve when it comes to technology. We recently sat down with Brian Geyser, Chief Clinical Officer, for Maplewood Senior Living. Brian leads our resident care programs, population health and technology initiatives.

Here, Brian answers some questions about how technology is used at Maplewood Senior Living.

Q: How does Maplewood Senior Living use technology to improve the lives of residents?

A: Our entire suite of tech products are specifically designed to make our residents lives more enjoyable. Residents have easy access to information, entertainment, care and opportunities to engage through the use of technology.

Q: What types of technology are included in this “suite of products”?

A: Our products include everything from virtual reality to hearing amplification products to high-tech fall risk sensors to educational tools. With this combination, we’ve achieved our purpose: to keep our residents safe, healthy and happy.

Q: Where will residents interact with technology?

A: The simple answer is: everywhere. Residents utilize technology to call for assistance throughout the community. Residents with hearing impairments are able to use noise-canceling headsets to improve programming experiences and social experiences. Virtual reality is used within the program schedule to treat our residents to excursions around the globe, to give them the opportunities to “interact” with animals, and to see and learn new things. New technology is always being added. We never stop searching for new ways to engage and assist our residents, and in this day and age, the possibilities are endless.

Q: How do your technology efforts keep the residents socially active?

A: Social engagement is one of the elements that forms the foundation of our life enrichment and wellness programs, and it’s critical for the overall health and happiness of our residents. That includes our VR Global Travel program and our virtual reality experiences, which will allow our residents travel the world (virtually) without ever leaving home. And our digital interactive programming and live stream learning programs support engagement with a variety of interactive shows and activities.

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Together, But Separate

You’ve reached the point that your loved one has moved into a memory care community, or will need to soon. You know its best, but all the feelings you have make you doubt yourself. This adjustment will take time for both of you. Know that up front. Your husband/wife will not (in most cases) be 100% comfortable in their new surroundings immediately. Sure, some may ‘transition’ easier than others, but for many, this can take at least a month or two for your loved one to feel comfortable.

You’ll also find yourself feeling alone. You may have had visitors in and out of your home to help support you and your spouse while he/she was still living with you. These people may not come around as much. This may be OK. Or, this may cause you to be lonely or to grieve. Make your concerns known to family and friends. Let them know if you still need help or assistance. Maybe you would just feel better with a weekly check in or phone call. Remember your friends and family are likely trying to give you space and may assume that you want to be left alone after all the hard work you were doing for so long.

Identify what overwhelms you the most about being alone. Is it the quiet house? Is it the lack of purpose you feel now that you are no longer caring for your loved one?  Is it that your daily routine has totally changed now that you’re on your own? Enlist a friend to help you find services that might relieve you of these concerns. Make a point to find groups that you might choose to join for social engagement, spiritual support or general interest. Ask a friend or family member to help you with financial concerns, or speak with a financial advisor. Make and plan meals in advance, freezing extra for future meal preparation. Or look into a meal delivery service. Talk to a landscaper about handling the grass and shoveling snow. Many of the things that can overcome you at first, are easily navigated. It will get easier with time.

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Approach to Care

Living with, supporting and caring for a person with a dementia diagnosis can be very challenging, particularly if your loved one begins acting out or becomes aggressive or agitated while you are caring for them. One of the biggest questions that arises for a caregiver in these situations is “why?”  “Why are they upset?” “Why are they acting this way?” “Why can’t they sleep?” Why, why, why.

Obviously being in the role of caregiver can become very stressful, especially when you can’t be certain what is needed to help your loved one feel better, sleep, eat or just relax. While it can be challenging at times as the caregiver, the best thing you can do is try to understand what is causing the behavior. Continue reading “Approach to Care”