Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Making Care Easier for Familiy Caring for Elderly Parents

Caring for elderly parents is one of the most stressful and thankless jobs anyone can undertake. Very few caregivers are lucky enough to have an entire support team to fall back on when they need help. But getting help isn't always easy.

You know you're overworked, overtired and overextended. But, do you know how to easily reach out for help? Every time you ask for help, there's a whole new set of questions that arise. Will your sister know what to do when she gets to mom's house? Does your friend who's driving mom know where her doctor's office is? How do I know things are getting done? When I was a caregiver, it felt like it took just as much effort to get people to help than to just do things myself.

But, getting help doesn't have to be that hard. The first step is to be prepared. As the old saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Making Care Easier (MCE) is developing the tools that help caregivers set up information ahead of time so when you're sick and can't be there for mom, have another commitment, or just need a break, your family and friends can step in and offer a helping hand. It's a free online or mobile app that helps you connect for caring.

Start preparing for help by preparing yourself. Gather the information someone would need to take over your role as caregiver. Start with the basics: what medicines are they taking and when, who is their doctor, allergies, medical facts, etc. Keep a log of your routine and use that as a place to start.
Be sure to add in a few bits of information to help other caregivers relate to your mom or dad: what's their favorite music or tv show? Do they like to read or need a special light or magnifier to do so? Do they play cards or like board games? Are there topics that would be better left not discussing? Remember that as needs change, so does the information that new caregivers need. Be sure to update what worked and add more information for what didn't. Don't be afraid to ask your family for input and remember that there is a learning curve for caring. Lastly, don't forget to thank your helpers - maybe they'll remember to thank you next time.

Once you have the information, MCE is building the tools that let you store and share information so if you're not available, your parents still get the care they need. Best of all, you and your family can access that information when and where it's convenient to you-online, on your phone or email. 

To join now or for more information, visit www.MakingCareEasier.com.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Renee Fry-Hawker of www.MakingCareEasier.com talks about founding Making Care Easier to help famlies caring for elderly parents

Renee Fry, one of the co-founders of Making Care Easier, talks with Radio Entrepreneurs to discuss how and why we founded MCE.  This video is a brief intro to the interview which talks about how we help caregivers, families caring for elderly parents and those caring for sick the ill. Find out more at www.MakingCareEasier.com .  

Friday, March 21, 2014

Recognizing the Signs of an Emergency

Our family and friends recently descended on our parents’ house like a pack of swarming bees. Within a week, mom and dad were host to eleven adults, five dogs and one very spoiled grandson.  Between visits from Santa (who had to use a door vs. the roof), the cutthroat games of Scrabble and the amazing smells coming non-stop from the kitchen, we were fortunate to notice that something wasn’t right with dad.

Dad is the type of stubborn, stiff-upper lipped man that won’t admit there’s a problem until it’s too late.  He raised us the same way.  When we were kids, my sister was the pitcher for our softball team and was winning a big game.  Half-way through, someone threw a bad which bounced and broke off part of her front tooth.  Dad made her play out the rest of the game (which they won).  Thankfully, he’s mellowed in his old age and when he couldn’t catch his breath, he knew something was wrong.  Turns out, he was having a heart attack.

Dad’s symptoms we’re that severe.  He was short of breadth and not until he was walking in the hospital some time later did he feel any pain.  Thankfully, with calls to our aunt (who is a retired physician’s assistant and our go-to medical expert) and encouragement from mom, dad took some aspirin, left for the hospital and was able to walk in under his own power.  If mom hadn’t insisted that he leave when he did or he didn’t finally put down his guard and go, he most likely would have died.

Learn the Signs of a Heart Attack

According to the American Heart Association, heart attacks can have many symptoms including:

·     Chest discomfort –Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.   Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. 

·     Discomfort in other areas of the upper body – Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. 

·     Shortness of breath – with or without chest discomfort.

·     Other signs – may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Dial 9-1-1 Fast
Heart attack and stroke are life-and-death emergencies — every second counts. If you see or have any of the listed symptoms, immediately call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number. Not all these signs occur in every heart attack or stroke. Sometimes they go away and return. If some occur, get help fast! Today heart attack and stroke victims can benefit from new medications and treatments unavailable to patients in years past. For example, clot-busting drugs can stop some heart attacks and strokes in progress, reducing disability and saving lives. But to be effective, these drugs must be given relatively quickly after heart attack or stroke symptoms first appear. So again, don't delay — get help right away!
(AHA http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/911-Warnings-Signs-of-a-Heart-Attack_UCM_305346_SubHomePag

Know the signs and don’t hesitate to react.  Thankfully for us, it worked for our family as dad came through with flying colors.  While we started the new year off with him still in the hospital, he’s now back at home going to cardiac rehab and learning to love the taste of chicken breasts (ok, mostly).

Monday, March 3, 2014

How We Became Our Best Test Users

Over Christmas, Dad had a heart attack.  As with most emergencies, we didn’t know it was coming.  But, we were prepared.  Thankfully, we already were using Making Care Easier for our own family, so we knew where all his information was and mom was able to guide him through the admissions and examination processes easily.  Once we knew what we were dealing with, we put up a note to his care team and on Facebook alerting family and friends what was happening.  Facebook is great for sharing pictures of my nephew and general updates, but it’s not private enough to share health updates and not where daily tasks and appointments should be shared.
Through MCE, we were able to access his emergency information and keep everyone up-to-date.  I was able to jump on the MCE mobile app and alert everyone when he was going into surgery.  The hospital had free Wi-Fi, so I was able to grab my iPad and add new members to his team and alert everyone when we needed something.  When I got home, I went online to the MCE website to send group e-mails to his MCE care team and personal messages to the dozens of people who wanted to know how things were going.

Not only did I save time, but I was able to keep everyone updated throughout the process.  Plus, a few family friends asked to join his care team, which we gratefully accepted.  As a happy, unexpected result, I was able to rekindle friendships and get help from those I never would have considered asking prior to using MCE.  While we hadn’t used mom and dad’s MCE account on a daily basis, it was great to have when we needed it.
For us, it was more than just accessing information when we needed it and e-mailing out updates.  We were able to send out tasks, find products and share articles and other information.  Not only did we deal with the firestorm of questions, but we were able to mobilize our friends and family.  We were able to send out tasks like “Who’s going to bring Liam to the hospital to visit?” or product requests like “Dad needs shirts that button down the front”.  Even today, we continue to share articles and update his medicine charts as things change.  Best of all, we could track what was happening and people on our care team felt like they were doing things to help.
Thankfully for us, dad came through with flying colors.  While we started the new year off with him still in the hospital, he’s now back at home going to cardiac rehab and learning to love the taste of chicken breasts (ok, mostly). While we never wanted to be our best test users, we were glad MCE was there for us when we needed it.  We hope MCE can help your family as well.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Snow Shoveling!

Ahhh, if we get any more snow this year, I might just up and move to Florida, or maybe the Bahamas, or Jamaica.  Okay probably not, but I am very tired of shoveling.  In fact, our dog is the only one who likes the snow!

Our neighbors are wonderful people.  When we were out during the holidays for an overnight to Grandma’s, we came home to find our steps shoveled and our sidewalk free of snow.  To our great surprise, our neighbors had shoveled for us. It took us trips to three neighbors to find out which ones had shoveled and while doing this, we realized snow is an issue for a lot of elderly who still live at home.  We’re young and able to shovel and it wasn’t a problem for us, but it is for our Grandma, who relies on our Aunt or neighbors to help her.  It’s easy to forget that she needs help too when you’re knee-deep in snow trying to shovel your own car out to get to work the next day.

This time when it snowed, we were ready.  Before the last storm was going to hit, we added a task to Grandma’s Making Care Easier site to “Shovel Snow”.  This way we knew who was going to do it instead of us all calling each other, spending way too long planning and making way too elaborate plans instead of just getting it done.  If you have an elderly relative who you help care for, who lives at home, you might just want to put up “Shovel snow” on your page too.  There are more storms coming so save time and get people signed up now so you know who to turn to so you can avoid the multiple phone calls, complaints, and wasted time it used to take to organize the snow patrol.  Think of all the extra snow you can shovel yourself with all the time you save!  And, if you are lucky like us, you have a great group of people who can help like we do for our Grandma.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Not Enough Time in the Day

Ahhh, there is not enough time in the day. Ever thought that, or perhaps are living that over and over? I am. Not sure how to balance family, friends, money, and time. Me too. This is starting to sound like an infomercial for Making Care Easier, but even as a founder, I forget that I can use our tool to ask for help.

It isn’t easy to ask for help. And for some of you, I suspect you are in the same position – you don’t even have time to ask for help or maybe it is easier just to do it yourself. And that may be true in some situations. But, in emergency situations, having a network you can reach out to and the system you can use saves time and lots of headaches. Instead of sending 30 emails asking who can do this or that for mom or dad, you can use Making Care Easier and our phone app too to send out one note, get someone to sign up for doing it, and get the help you need.

The pain of setting up a care team isn’t nearly as bad as suffering the pain of having not. If you have friends who are living these situations every day like we do, please encourage them to use our app. It is free to use because we lived the need. From caring for a grandmother who is 91 (and picky if you read our blogs) to a father who just had a heart attack at Christmas, we live what we preach, even if we need a reminder every now and then too that asking for help is a good thing and we hope we made it easier!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Know What to Look for When Visiting Elderly Parents This Thanksgiving, Take Time for THANKS

As we gather together to give thanks this week, don’t miss the opportunity to check in on elderly loved ones. While phone calls throughout the year are important, seeing mom and dad in person can be the best way to assess physical and mental issues.

Give thanks this year by assessing how your mom and dad’s needs are being met:

·            T – Their health – Have there been any noticeable health changes since you last saw them? Are they taking their prescriptions and are they up-to-date? Be sure to ask them about recent doctor visits and make sure they are routinely visiting health care professionals.

·            H – Home – Perform a basic home assessment to see if their home is still meeting their needs. Pay special attention to the bathroom, kitchen and entryways.

·            A – Appearance – Have there been any physical changes that you weren’t aware of that should be discussed with their doctor? Has their mobility changed or have there been any drastic weight changes?

·            N – Nutrition – Are they eating regularly? Is there food in the cabinets or refrigerator and is it fresh?

·            K – Knowledgebase – Do you know where important papers (such as wills, medical directives, insurance papers) are kept? Do you know who to contact in an emergency if you can’t reach your parents? Do you know how bills are paid and if they are managing their finances?

·            S – Skills – Assess your parents’ mental and physical skills to see if they need additional help or if you need to make changes. Are dad’s reaction times good enough to keep him safe on the road? Is it time to consider bringing in someone to help with cleaning or laundry?

Talk to your friends and family while you are all together and approach caregiving as a team effort. If you don’t have time to discuss changes between the big meal and game, schedule a meeting online or on the phone to discuss your parents’ care and what changes need to be made.
Caring for your parents doesn’t just happen on holidays. Use the holidays to not only give thanks for all your blessings, but to see how you can help make sure your parents’ needs are being met.