Getting older can sometimes be a scary time with so many unknowns and variables of what can happen in terms of health, family and just everyday life. To help alleviate a bit of that stress, though, here are some websites intended to help California seniors and their families adjust to new stages of life and the changes that may come.
Home Health Care Providers in California
One of the biggest decisions that families and seniors in California have to make is what they’re going to do about their living situation when living alone is no longer an option.
Both American House and Brookdale Senior Living Solution understand the big decision this may be and provide a surplus of options and information for individualized senior care; whether it be through assisted in-home living or a senior care center. Atria was established with the intent of “creating an environment where older people can thrive and have the opportunities and support they need to continue to live fulfilling lives.”
Alternatively, Home Instead offers comprehensive information and a range of services that “can be individualized to meet the needs of your family members” and allow loved ones the opportunity to live in a familiar place with the proper care they require.
It is also important to remember that aging doesn’t just affect seniors themselves but their loved ones as well who often worry about their parents’ health and well being as they get older.
Robotic Pets for Seniors Engage And Make Them Laugh
By Paul GilsterParo, a robotic seal, looks like a stuffed animal, but has some serious healthcare skills. Credit: National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Japan.
Television shows aren’t necessarily good at predicting events, but the AMC show “Humans” just may be telling us something about where we’re going. On the show, so-called “synths” are robots so exquisitely developed that they are easily mistaken for humans. Numerous issues arise from all this, but one option is striking: Having a synth can revolutionize healthcare for seniors. A full-featured android can monitor vital signs, help with daily tasks and become an ever present companion, while summoning emergency personnel should that become necessary.
Are robots likely to become this sophisticated? Ponder this: Gill Pratt, who is program director for robotics research at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), has speculated that we may be nearing a “Cambrian moment” in robotics. He’s referring to a time when artificial intelligence and robots merge to do what life did half a billion years ago in the Cambrian era, suddenly proliferating from simple designs into complex, multicellular forms.
And indeed, the precursors of the “synths” are already among us. At the University of Toronto, researchers are producing robots as part of a pilot study of long-term care options. One of these devices, named Casper, can help those with memory loss keep up a daily schedule and prepare meals at home. Another, named Tangy, is designed to be a dinner companion for those in assisted living, capable of playing bingo and even telling jokes. Tangy also senses when a resident is in trouble and knows when it’s time to call for help.
The worldwide market for robots is expected to hit close to $100 billion by 2020. Those trying to track these developments may well look toward Japan, where the Shinto faith, in which objects like robots are considered to be as spiritually valuable as their biological creators, offers a philosophical backdrop ideal for experiment. Japan is also the acid test for demographers. This is a country that expects government spending on eldercare to double, reaching $175 billion a year over the next decade. Forty percent of the country’s population will be older than 65 by the year 2060. More healthcare workers are needed, and the ranks of robotics may produce them.
Consider the meteoric rise of Japan’s Cyberdyne, a 2004 startup whose market debut last year has made a billion dollar fortune for founder Yoshiyuki Sankai. How Sankai built this fortune is illustrative of the trends at work as robots make their way into eldercare. Cyberdyne’s first product was called HAL, for Hybrid Assistive Limb. Consider it a wearable frame that helps older adults with leg movement, one especially useful for those with stroke-associated disabilities. Driven by motors communicating with sensors on the patient’s body, HAL may eventually help such people improve their neural systems even as it assists with basic body movement.
These robots show a pedigree harking back to the industrial robots so often found in the factories of carmakers, but they’re rapidly being extended to fit into a very different environment. Riken, a Japanese research institute, has developed Robear, a 140 kg robot that can actually lift patients from a wheelchair to a bed or even into a bath. No eerie mechanical pincers or whirring assembly-line components here — Robear looks like a little polar bear. The idea is to be non-threatening and to give off vibrations of warmth and friendliness. Researchers are learning that making robots too human in appearance may itself be threatening. The compromise is to give the mechanical device a pet-like aspect that offers a degree of companionship.
Can it work? The early indicators are good. Paro is a robotic baby seal that was developed by Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. Those dealing with dementia or other disabling mental issues can keep Paro, who looks like a cuddly stuffed animal, in their lap. The robot reacts to petting, its sensors picking up what the patient says and reacting accordingly. At least one early study indicates that those who interact with Paro show increased brain function, an effect we’ve known about for some time with living pets.
In the US, healthcare costs will soon surpass $4 trillion dollars a year, which is why robotics are being examined for in-home care as well as assistance in institutions designed for older adults. In Massachusetts, a startup called GeriJoy, created by researchers from MIT, is exploring pet avatars that appear on tablet computers. The idea is to take pet therapy into the realm of networking, by offering software that interacts between the patient and a remote healthcare monitor. Going the logical next step, the GiraffPlus project in the European Union attaches a tablet screen to a wheeled cart that can move through a nursing home for family “visits.”
We’re going to learn a lot more about robotic caregiving as these projects mature and receive governmental approval in various countries. A key question: Can those with dementia or even minor mental impairment understand what they’re dealing with when the dividing line between robotic and human caregivers, or even pets used as therapy, becomes blurred? A flock of ethical issues are ripe for investigation, including the question of whether humans may all too easily shed their responsibilities toward seniors when robotic care becomes pervasive.
Nonetheless, we now use robots routinely in a variety of surgical procedures, and there are reasons to believe that robots may prove the superior caregiver in situations like Alzheimer’s, where frustration and fatigue are the bane of care workers. Doubtless robots will be no more than an adjunct to human-driven patient care for the near term, but having robotic help at mechanical matters like meals and getting dressed may free up caregiver time for the social interactions humans need. Just how we work that balance is something we can only learn by trial and error, a process now solidly underway in companies and laboratories worldwide.
Originally published at www.seniorcorrespondent.com on August 17, 2015.
How to Start a Healthcare Sitter Service BusinessSenior Care
If you’d have met me two years ago, you would have marveled at how I am a 70-year-old, independent woman who can not only take care of all her own needs, but also has an active social life and babysits her grandchildren whenever she gets the chance. In fact, people told me that the reason I was mentally all there even at this age was that I was so physically active. Of course, I did have my fair share of “senior moments,” when memory would fail me but even my doctor said that some of that was expected at this age. Whatever it was, I thanked God that I was fit and did not need to consider an old-age home, a phrase that put the fear of god in me!
It wasn’t till late 2014 that I realized that my forgetfulness was becoming almost rampant to the extent that it was affecting my life. At this stage, my doctor said that I had mild cognitive impairment, again something that a lot of people experience due to aging. But things didn’t stop there. I started losing track of the day, date and even the time of day. Sometimes I would feel disoriented even at the supermarket, especially if it wasn’t my usual one. This really scared me.
My World Came Crashing Down
This was when my daughter insisted on taking me for a complete neurological checkup. It didn’t take too many of those cognitive tests for the specialist to diagnose me with the early stages of Alzheimer’s. I was devastated. This wasn’t supposed to happen to me. I had fought the good fight so far, raised three children, survived my husband of 40 years and done my bit for the community too. It just wasn’t fair.
It took me a long time to finally come to terms with the diagnosis. I began to read about Alzheimer’s anywhere I could. I wanted to prepare myself for what was to come. This is when I came across statistics published by a non-profit organization, HelpGuide.Org, which said that more than 15 million Americans were estimated to be affected by this disorder by 2050, with already more than 26 million people having been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s worldwide.
Life Began to Change
My doctor explained to me that this disorder progresses gradually, and while there were drugs that could slow the progress, for now there is nothing that could be done to halt or reverse it. For the first time in my life, the doctor recommended that I consider Senior Care Services specializing in the care of people with Dementia and Alzheimer’s. But I wasn’t ready for this, at least not just yet.
I learned that while most classified the disorder across seven stages, my doctor gave me a simple way to understand the stages:
Stage 1: Early or Mild Stage: This can last anywhere from two to four years and is characterized by memory loss. In 2014, this is where I was. I forgot recent events, conversations, where I kept things and slowly also began to feel depressed off and on. At times, I also felt that driving was becoming difficult for me.
Stage 2: The Moderate or Middle Stage: This is where I was headed next, with persistent and pervasive memory loss, which would include forgetting my own personal history, and even lead me to being unable to recognize friends and then even family members. This stage could last up to 10 years in some cases. Sleep and mood problems, behavioral changes, confusion, problems with mobility and inability to take care of my activities of daily living would set in.
Stage 3: The Late or Severe Stage: Lasting anywhere from one to more than three years, this was the stage when I would get incapacitated, with not only loss of verbal skills but also severe problems, such as hallucinations, incontinence and delirium, setting in. This was when 24x7 care would be required. I didn’t want to live long enough to experience this stage.
My family really rallied around me once I was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. While I was denying my symptoms and diagnosis, my daughter, daughters-in-law and two sons were constantly at my side. I knew how busy their lives were and I felt terrible. But accepting that I was on a downward spiral in life was much worse than putting my children out for a bit, or so I thought at that time.
I began to notice the leaflets about residential care facilities, homecare facilities and all sorts of Alzheimer’s care services that were left around the house for me to find. I would get angry that my children thought of me as a burden and wanted to hand over the responsibility to someone else. By about mid-2015, I realized that my younger daughter-in-law had given up her full time job for some freelancing work so that she could take care of my needs.
My daughter was a single mother and was already struggling to take care of her own daughter and home. My older daughter-in-law took out as much time as possible to be with me. My sons insisted on dropping by on weekends. And I suddenly saw Monster-in-Law looking back at me when I looked in the mirror. I was being unfair to my family, expecting them to do things for me that only professionals would be able to in some time.
Acceptance Liberated Me
I finally decided to check out some senior care services for myself. I read leaflets, checked out websites and visited some with my daughter-in-law to talk to the people there. I finally settled on a residential facility that was not only conveniently located for my family to visit me regularly, I loved the place. Seacrest Village, in Little Egg Harbor, NJ, was just what I needed. The staff was so helpful, the residents seemed vivacious and the premises were simply inviting. Their program, Hearts in the Past, immediately appealed to me because recently I had been able to recall things that I had experienced in my youth and childhood than things that had happened the previous day.
I have been at Seacrest Village for almost six months now and I would gladly recommend this place to anyone going through what I went through from diagnosis to acceptance. Today, I know I have the right kind of support, people to talk to about my fears of future degeneration, and my children and grandchildren are happy to spend time with me whenever they can. My favorite day is when the dogs come in for the pet therapy sessions. I never had a pet of my own but I find so much peace spending time with these patient four-legged friends who always seem happy to spend time with me!
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