In Praise Of Simple Solutions

I often hear from family coordinators of things like ‘I called my Mom to talk about finances and instead we spoke for 45 minutes about how to use her TV’ or ‘I bought Dad a medical alert device but half the time he forgets to wear it.”

Caregiving can sound simple in concept but the logistical challenges are immense.  The reality is that many caregiving strategies don’t work the first time.  Or the second.

This is a function of aging, illness and an emotionally exhausted family.  Many things are just harder.  A simple trip to drug store can end up taking and hour and half and drains the caregiver of their last energy of the day.

I remember speaking with a good friend about his elderly father who is in his 80’s.  My friend wanted to watch over his father’s finances.  His father was forgetting some things and had been the victim of eldercare fraud recently.

I told him “It’s simple!”  Gather together your Dad’s his name, address, social security number, account information and email.  Then you can call the bank and setup online access in 15 minutes.

Boy, was I wrong.  His father didn’t have an email address nor a phone that could receive text messages.  They both needed to head to a physical bank to get it set up.

My friend had to wait until an upcoming trip to visit his Dad (who lives in another state) to get this done.  After a trip to the bank a few months after our initial conversation it was finally done.

This story is the essence of real-life caregiving.  It isn’t easy.  It’s fraught with small bumps in the road that delay a lot.  The logistical challenges of getting seemingly small things done can be daunting.  Caregiver solutions need to embrace this reality.  Solutions that take little time and minimal setup are critical.

I want to share with you one of the top caregiving solutions that harnesses this reality.  It is incredibly easy to execute.

 

Connection

I often hear from family coordinators of care that they enjoy spending time with their loved one.  “I cherish the time I spend with my Mom,” a friend recently told me.

Their lives revolve around making that connection.  They pay that last bill at 11:00pm to spend more time with their Dad.  They pick up medication after an exhausting day at work to relieve their loved one’s pain.

All of the financial, medical, and logistical tasks must be dealt with.  And many caregivers do them with a smile.  But the end goal is always connection and love.  To get a few extra minutes with the person they care for.

A frequent roadblock that many face is distance.  They live in a different state.  The drive is three hours by car.

One of the most effective tools I have found to connect when far away is Apple Face Time.  And it’s not just for families that live in a different state.  Apple Face Time just works.  A rare thing in the caregiver world.  It’s easy, effective and powerful.

 

Face Time For Caregivers & The Elderly

Face Time is an apple product.  It can only be used on Apple devices (IPhone, IPad and Apple Computers).  The reason it is so powerful is that once setup, a single click will get the live video conversation going.  This is particularly helpful for the elderly.

You will need two apple products.  One with your elderly loved one.  The other with the family members that want to make the call.

Apple IPhones and IPads vary in price from $199 – $899 depending upon what data plan you get (for better deals check out Apple’s refurbished products site).  Yes there are other phones with video cameras but none of them are as reliable.  They don’t connect half the time or it takes a lot of clicks and technical knowledge to place or accept a call.

The goal is to have a video device that your elderly loved one can use themselves.  Without help or intervention they will be able to place or receive a video call.  If you’re an experienced caregiver you know how valuable this is.

 

Face Time Setup

You will need a wireless internet connection in both locations where the call is being made.  Your elderly loved one may not currently have wireless and this can be a logistical hurdle (which you may not want to deal with).  You can make video calls over a regular phone data plan but it gets really expensive quickly.

There are several steps I recommend taking with your elderly loved one.  For the below I will use the IPad as my example:

  • Write Down All Steps On A Piece Of Paper – the elderly generation uses paper so write down the steps to make and receive a call on a piece of paper they can refer to.
  • Remove The Password From The IPad – this makes it easier for them to open the device.
  • Buy A Standup Charger – This way the IPad will always be charging. The elderly are not used to constantly charging devices like we are.  Have them take the call while the IPad is still sitting in the charger.
  • Move All Of The Icons Off Of The First Screen Except The Face Time App – Simplicity is key. Having 30 apps on a screen with multiple colors can be confusing.
  • Edit Contacts To Only Have Face Time Contacts – Limit the contacts on the IPad to the 4 to 5 people that would make Face Time calls to your loved one.

The impact can be profound.  There is something unique about a video discussion that you can’t get over the phone.  It can even help with engagement and depression.

If you like this post and want more sign up for the email list at the top!  We’ll send you free tips on caregiving for your elderly loved one.

Published: August 27, 2015
By: JP Adams

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