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Timeless Tea Talks: Technology, Fall Prevention, Driving

Care Partner Club Forum Topic: September 2023

Read: transcript

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as professional advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, for any legal matters, it is important to seek guidance from a licensed attorney. Reliance on the information presented in this context is at your own risk. Hello, everyone, welcome to Timeless Tea Talks, a part of the Old Friends Club Care Partner Club Forum. We are so glad you’re here with us today. Timeless Tea Talks are convenient 15-minute webinars for busy care partners. We know your free time is precious, and we want to make sure you have more of it to do the things you enjoy! There are so many amazing and helpful resources out there - if only there were more time in the day to go through all of them and find the most helpful resource for what’s needed at that given time! That’s why we’re doing some of the leg work and summarizing resources to make your care partner journey a little easier. You can listen to our summaries and if you’re interested in learning more about the resource, a link will accompany it. This webinar will also be available in an audio version as well as a transcript version - please choose to engage with Timeless Tea Talks in the way that works best for you! A free chat room on our website will also accompany each webinar- we invite you to join and chat with other care partners, at your convenience. The care partner club topics for September 2023 include fall prevention, driving, and technology. Let’s first take a moment to relax. Katie is going to lead us in a relaxation exercise. Meditation  Today we’re going to create a mental air conditioner for our bodies to help with agitation and impatience. This exercise is helpful when you’re emotionally heated and helps create a cooling breath in those “testy” moments. Begin by creating an oval with your lips. Now draw in a long and strong breath. Air will be coming into your mouth and cooling off your tongue, and it should almost sound like the wind is blowing when you do this. After a long inhale, close your lips and gently press your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Hold for 3 seconds then slowly exhale through your nose. Did you notice the coolness of your tongue help to sooth your nervous system and calm your mind? Let’s do this 4 more times. Create an oval with your lips, draw in a long breath, close your lips and gently press your tongue to the roof of your mouth, hold for 3 seconds then slowly exhale through your nose. 3 more times. Create an oval with your lips, draw in a long breath, close your lips and gently press your tongue to the roof of your mouth, hold for 3 seconds then slowly exhale through your nose. 2 more times. Create an oval with your lips, draw in a long breath, close your lips and gently press your tongue to the roof of your mouth, hold for 3 seconds then slowly exhale through your nose. 1 more time. Create an oval with your lips, draw in a long breath, close your lips and gently press your tongue to the roof of your mouth, hold for 3 seconds then slowly exhale through your nose. Thank you for spending this with me today!   Thank you, Katie! That was very relaxing. And now we’re going to move onto our resource summaries. 6 Steps to Help Prevent Falls in Older Adults  I found a helpful infographic from the National Council on Aging, which provides 6 steps to prevent a fall. The first step to prevent a fall is to find a good balance and exercise program. You want to build balance, strength, and practice your flexibility. If you are interested, your local Area Agency on Aging can help you with referrals, and Old Friends Club Resource page can help you find your Area Agency on Aging!   The second step to prevent a fall is to talk to your health care provider about having an assessment performed on your risk of falling. If you have any history of falling, this would be a good time to share with your doctor about these incidents. The third step is to regularly review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist. Sometimes medications have side effects which can contribute to falls. This step can be combined with the second step when you talk to your doctor about receiving an assessment for falls.  The fourth step is to get your vision and hearing checked annually and update your eyeglasses. Knowing and keeping your vision and hearing in check are important when it comes to avoiding falls.   The fifth step is to keep your home safe by removing hazards, such as toys or trinkets in the floor, increase lighting to help see throughout your home, ensuring stable handrails on your stairs, and installing grab bars in key areas, like your bathroom.   Finally, the sixth step is to talk to your family about getting their support to help stay safe. It’s important to enlist their help with these recommendations because falls are not just seniors’ issues.     The next resource, we’d like to share about fall prevention is called “The Apartments: A Guide to Creating a Dementia-Friendly Home”. This was created by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. They’re a fantastic organization, located up in New York and in their headquarters, they’ve actually built an apartment that you can physically go and walk through. There’s a short video of it on their website and there’s also a printed guide available on the website that you can download which is just fantastic and it sort of goes from room to room with recommendations of how to make the space more dementia-friendly in terms of fall prevention. They do mention, you know, having automatic lights in the rooms so when you walk into a room, let’s stay late at night like the bathroom a light will automatically come on and this is great because if you can aluminate the place where someone’s walking, they’re less likely to trip and fall, another idea is to install grab bars and the grab bars are great because it just gives you know the person something to hold onto. Another idea is tile with a nonslip finish - tile floor can be really slippery, especially if you’re wearing socks, unless you have grippy socks on. I thought those were some fantastic ideas and I highly recommend that you check out this resource.   Driving  It is hard to determine when someone should stop driving before it’s necessary for the person to stop driving. If your loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, it is helpful to look into options that may be out there. Sometimes having a home aide or a driver to help maintain a regular schedule of running errands, going to doctor’s appointments or other routinely kept outings. Other options can include Uber/Lyft/taxis/public transit, but this can sometimes lead to confusion of where the person with dementia needs to go or how to get back home unless they have an escort. Another option is Access-a-Ride, which is a program meant for seniors and people with disabilities. While this option may be helpful for some, it does often require someone to call a reserve a ride several days in advance. Other options include asking friends or volunteers to assist with taking your loved one to their destination. It may be good for your loved one to spend time with someone and socialize on the way to their appointment, and you as the care partner can be in touch with the person driving along the way to the destination.   The second driving resource we’d like to share is a UCLA webinar that you can watch on YouTube. It’s about 41 minutes long. I want to say the last maybe 15 minutes or so are actually a Q&A. This is presented by Dr. Linda MA Crowley. She’s a clinical psychologist in the division of geriatric psychiatry and I really enjoyed listening to this webinar because she reviewed a few different things that I thought were helpful so the first being: Dementia patients are at an increased risk for auto accidents, because they lose awareness of their own neurological, thinking and lose the capabilities to determine when to stop driving so there’s an education piece here that’s just very important. They are at greater risk of crashes and violations similar to the way teenagers are when they start driving. They’re at about eight times greater risk of crashes and 80 to 85% of the time these drivers are responsible for their crashes. This also happens to be a public safety issue. It’s difficult to get someone who’s living with dementia to stop driving because they’ll lose their autonomy if they don’t have their car. How do they get places? They may not even recognize that they’re on safe. When people stop driving, they tend to socially isolate, become depressed and that’s never a good thing. How do you family caregivers intervene? Here are some ideas: observe their driving, detect patterns, take notes and have conversations be sensitive about how they feel. Share concerns, have other share theirs as well. Doctors are usually seen as an authority figures- have the doctor talk to them. Create a new transportation plan with them. Contact your area Ombudsman for help. Check out the AARP for driver safety courses, the Alzheimer’s Association for dementia and driving tips, or you can always check in with your insurance company to see if they have guidance as well. Older Adults and Technology  Getting older adults to utilize technology can be difficult, and it can be even more complicated when someone has dementia. It is important to remember that the different stages of the person with dementia will mean a variation of what that person is able to do. Both the care partner and person with dementia will have different comfort levels of utilizing technology. The Alzheimer’s Store (link provided in notes section) might be a good place to look for dementia-friendly technology products. Other places to look for dementia-friendly technology applications is through the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store. These places may have applications that are useful for both the care partner and person with dementia. Another option for care partners could be Amazon’s Alexa Together paid-for subscription (link provided in notes section) and allows for family members to keep an eye on their aging counterpart. Alex Together requires care partners to have Echo speakers and the Alexa app on their smartphones and allows the app to monitor falls or when the older person leaves the house through paired sensors. This idea can be helpful with someone with dementia, but someone with mild or early onset dementia may not want to be “watched” all the time. Other ideas include wearable technology, like Apple, Samsung, and Google watches, tablets, and even VR headsets. Also included in the notes section is an article from Saber Healthcare, which discuses a few tips on helping seniors learn how to use technology.  All right, and for our last resource, this was a “Civic Coffee” event by Aging King County called “Technology and Aging”. In this event, they talked about digital equity, and how to develop technology skills with the help of a digital navigator. Navigating the digital world can be as challenging as learning, a new language. It can also feel isolating and disconnecting, especially when software updates change everything you’ve just learned. One of the areas that the City of Seattle is focusing on to reduce the disparities and create digital equity, is helping people develop skills to use technology. A recommendations they have is, when you’re using yourself into technology, try doing some thing that you like doing on paper but as an app. For example, if you like doing crossword puzzles on paper, try using a crossword puzzle app. The goal with this is to build up your skills gradually and overcoming frustration. A digital navigator: A digital navigator is a staff member- they are tech-savvy guides and you can find them at locations like the W. Seattle Senior Center the Ballard senior Center and Lake City senior center. They can do one-on-one in-person technical assistance with basically anything you need- it’s really neat. If it’s something that you’re interested in, just reach out to one of those senior centers and see if you need to schedule an appointment or if it’s OK if you just drop on in! And that is our final resource will be sharing for this month’s Timeless Tea Talks webinar. We will provide a link to all of the resources mentioned in the caption on our website if you’d like to learn more. Please join us and other care partners in our online chat form for a discussion about this webinar. We want to let you know how much we appreciate you and your time today. Please remember you’re doing a great job as a care partner. Thank you again for joining us and we can’t wait to see you next time! Don’t forget to mark your calendars for our next webinar on October 25 at 5:00 PM. We’re gonna be talking about building your care partner toolbox. I’m really excited about this one so I I hope to see you there! All right, take care.


Fall Prevention:

Resource #1:

6 Steps to Help Prevent Falls in Older Adults 



Additional Resource:

Balance Exercises:

Resource #2:

The Apartment-A Guide to Creating a Dementia-Friendly Home, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America


Resource #1:

Driving -

Resource #2:

UCLA webinar - “Driving Cessation: What Caregivers Need to Know”, Webinar presented by Linda M. Ecroli, PhD - clinical psychologist in the division of Geriatric Psychiatry

YouTube [41:09]


Resource #1 Older Adults and Technology 


Additional resources mentioned:

Alzheimer’s Store  

Alexa Together  

8 Tips to Help Seniors Learn Technology 

Resource #2

“Technology and Aging” Event by Aging King County [52:07], Civic Coffee (Monthly meeting, in-person and virtual, available to watch on YouTube)

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