Category: Elderly Products

Best Hearing Aid Alternatives

Best Hearing Aid Alternatives

Best Hearing Aid Alternatives

hearing aid alternatives with medicare life health - what is a psap

Hearing aids are expensive. We are talking thousands of dollars, sometimes even with insurance. In addition, they may be overkill for the amount of hearing support you require.

Fortunately, there are hearing aid alternatives. You just need to know where to look and what to look for.

Hearing Aids are Not Covered by Medicare

Does medicare cover hearing aids doctor examining patient

One of the main problems is that hearing aids are not covered by Original Medicare. (Read this article to learn more, and how they are sometimes “covered” or subsidized by select Medicare Advantage plans.

Just as a refresher, Medicare Advantage Plans are private insurance plans (Medicare Part C) that are available to Medicare Beneficiaries in certain geographic areas. Some of them do have hearing care benefits.

So, What is a Low Cost Hearing Aid Alternative?

Before 2009, the only solution for procuring a hearing aid was through a doctor. In addition, to make matters worse, these solutions were (and still are) thousands of dollars.

Enter the PSAP…

What is a PSAP?

However, in 2009, a court decision finally allowed sales of OTC (over the counter) hearing aids. They changed the name of these “hearing aid alternatives” to Personal Sound Amplifier Products or PSAP.

What is the Difference Between a Hearing Aid and an Amplifier?

To be frank, the main difference between a hearing aid and a hearing amplifier is FDA regulation. To get a hearing aid, you will

To get an amplifier (PSAP), you just need to purchase one online. No doctor or prescription required. However, you may want to see a hearing specialist just to be sure your hearing loss is not connected to another condition.

How do Amplifiers Work?

Personal Sound Amplifiers are basically over-the-counter hearing aids. They “manage” noise around you and help you hear what is important, like the sound of voices directed at you. Some of them even have noise cancelling technologies. (Affiliate Link)

Our PSAP Brand Recommendation

One of the first, and still very popular, brands of PSAP’s is Otofonix. We recommend this brand, and our links for them are affiliate links. The company was started by an ENT (ear, nose and throat) doctor and the company has many different options and price points.

Otofonix has some limited time offers for our readers. They are listed here:

Otofonix is known for having great customer service, a 1 year warranty and a up to 45 day return window.

Hearing Health Tips for Improving and Protecting Hearing

Finally, we are ending our hearing aid alternatives article with a few tips for naturally improving hearing. They might not be a substitute for an amplifier or hearing aid, but they might make a difference.

To Start, Keep Your Ears Unclogged

There are multiple ways your ears can get plugged up. You could have an infection, allergies, pressure build-up (like from a plane ride), or even too much war wax.

I remember when my mom spent months not being able to hear and thinking she needed hearing aids. However, when she went to the doctor, they found out she just had a prolific amount of ear wax! After they drained her wax out, she could hear again.

There are ways to “irrigate” your own ear canal, but that also might be something to consult your doctor about. It is always a good idea to be safe and gentle your ears. (And stay away from putting things in your ears like cotton swabs.)

Finally, Prevent Further Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss Prevention is the Key to hearing health! Make sure you are protecting your hearing by:

  • Wearing ear plugs when you know you will be experiencing loud sounds. For example, at a concert or fireworks show.
  • Give yourself some quiet time. Your ears and brain work hard together to interpret sounds. Make sure to give them a break every once-and-a-while.
  • Turn down the volume on the TV and on your music.
  • Take care of your whole self. Exercise and a healthy diet will help to keep all your body’s systems in proper working order, including your ears.
  • In addition, foods rich in magnesium may help bolster hearing health. Studies have been inconclusive in how other vitamins and minerals help hearing health.

How to Prevent Falls: 5 Ways to Protect the Elderly

How to Prevent Falls: 5 Ways to Protect the Elderly

How to Prevent Falls: Top 5 Ways to Protect the Elderly

how to prevent falls, with a quiz and 5 step prevention plan

Falls are the number one cause of injury (both fatal and non-fatal) in people over 65. Yikes! As a result, it is important to learn how to prevent falls – for yourself and for your older loved ones.

When I was taking care of my 85 year old grandparents, it was a major fall that signaled to us all that it was time to move them to an assisted living center. They had reached the point where living in a split-level house with 2 sets of stairs was becoming a safety hazard.

Like with my grandparents, sometimes a fall can signal the need to move or set-up additional care. On the other hand, sometimes it is just a wake-up call to make sure you are doing all you can to make your (or your senior’s) living environment as safe as possible.

One Third of All Seniors Fall

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one out of every three seniors will fall each year. However, many of these falls are preventable.

Let’s look at how you can set yourself or your senior loved-one up for safety and success – both in and out of the home.

Step 1: The How to Prevent Falls Safety Assessment

According to the National Council on Aging, there are six areas you should assess when considering how to prevent falls: balance and gait, vision, medications, environment, and chronic conditions.

Fall Prevention Quiz

Answer these questions to create the foundation for your Fall Prevention Plan.

  1. How is your balance and coordination? Do you run into things often? How often do you stumble? Are you relying on support for walking (i.e. walls, canes, furniture, walkers)?
  2. How is your vision? Have you had an eye check-up lately? How old are your glasses? Is there a lot of light available in your living spaces?
  3. Do you have any health problems that might cause you to fall?
  4. Are you taking any medications that have side-effects that might contribute to a fall?
  5. Can you see any major safety concerns in your house (i.e. stair, sharp corners)?
  6. Do you have any pets or family members that might contribute to unsafe living conditions?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you can start to address them one-by-one with the steps below.

Step 2: Work on Balance & Coordination

Prevent Falls by Improving Your Balance

If you don’t use it, you loose it, applies directly to balance. We must all keep up on our balance and agility to stay healthy and active. This especially applies to people over the age of 65.

If you, or your loved-one, have significant challenges with walking and balancing, you should seek out the help of a professional physical therapist.

If you are just looking to stay on-top-of your balance and mobility, then it is time to work-out! Being active and participating in fitness activities in general is the first step in keeping your balance.

Yoga, Strength & Balance Exercises

Next, if you want to work directly on improving balance, turn to exercises like yoga and tai chi. These have many different moves and poses that help you challenge your mind and body to focus, strengthen and balance.

We recommend this program as a way to keep mobile or get back into fitness. The Grow Young Fitness Chair Exercises for Seniors is a very popular program for regaining balance and strength.

The DVD Starter Pack includes Cardio, Core work, Balance and gentle Yoga. It is an easy, safe, effective workout DVD for beginning fitness seniors and the elderly. This starter kit is by Grow Young Fitness.

Click here for More of the Best of Senior Fitness

Products to Help You Prevent Falls

If you, or your loved-one, need a little balance support in everyday life, we have a few recommendations that have helped our senior friends over the years.

Our number one recommendation, is having a good cane. Even better – a cane with a portable seat.

Often it is just nice to know you have the freedom to go where you choose and not have to worry about needing support to stand or sit. The Drive Medical Deluxe Folding Cane Seat is our top cane choice for mobility and safety.

We like that the cane is light enough (1.3 lbs) to walk comfortably with and the chair is comfortable enough for short rests and medium waits. The chair can support up to 250 lbs.

It is especially good for travel lovers who swear by this product to keep them feeling safe in new circumstances.

Note, you should always consult your medical professional or physical therapist on the use of walking aids.

Step 3: Make Sure You Can See

Check Your Eye Health

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), our eyes start to show signs of aging in our mid-40s. Typically, aging eyes start to loose the ability to focus up close first and general deterioration continues as our eyes age.

It makes sense: if you can’t see well, trips and falls are much more likely to happen. As a result, eye-health is an important part of fall prevention for the elderly.

If you (or your loved ones) start to have problems with your eyes, make an appointment right away. The American Optometric Association (AOA) mentions eye problem warning signs to pay close attention to such as:

  • Fluctuating Vision
  • Seeing Floaters / Flashes
  • Loss of Side Vision
  • Seeing Distorted Images.
    If you experience any of these, you should talk with your professional care providers right away.

In addition to normal eye aging, you can find more information on age-related vision problems (including Macular Degeneration, Cataracts, Diabetic Retinopathy, Dry Eye, Glaucoma and Retinal Detachment) here.

Steps to Protect Your Vision

  1. Improve Your Lighting: The AOA mentions that older adults need more light to see as well as they used to. As a result, setting up proper lighting in your home is crucial for senior safety.
    • First, make sure that all of your rooms have plenty of both day-time and night-time lighting in general. Having a variety of light sources that are located in different places and at different heights will help to eliminate shadows and light up all objects in one’s path.
    • In addition, make sure you have plenty of reading light, and glare reduction light to protect from reflecting sources. For example, putting back-lighting on the TV or keeping a lamp on while watching TV can help reduce eye strain and glare.
  2. Keep Prescriptions Up-to-Date: Next, regular eye exams should be on everyone over 65’s calendar. Your eyes are not only your first defense in fall prevention, but also crash prevention. If you (or your senior loved-one) are still driving – make eye health a number one priority and stay on top of your annual check-ups.
  3. Buy Eye-Drops: Finally, eyes get drier as you age. Your tear glands produce less moisture year-after-year. In order to maintain clear eyesight, you may need to use eye drops more often.
  4. Avoid Tint-Changing Lenses: These lenses do not adjust fast enough for aging eyes walking into a dark room from the sunlight. Consequently, these lenses are a major trip hazard.
  5. Watch out for Bifocals on Stairs. The two different lenses might mess-up perception, especially on the stairs.

Step 4: Check Your Health & Medications

Medical Conditions & Medication Concerns

how to prevent falls for the elderly

There are many medical conditions that are associated with fall concerns. Moreover, there are many medications that come with concerning side-effects. Make sure you (or your loved-one) are on top of your health appointments and are aware of any changes in your health that might lead to fall concerns including dizziness or balance issues.

Next, discuss with your doctors what medications you are taking and if any of them have any side-effects that might cause a fall.

Finally, the National Council on Aging also warns against over the counter drugs that contain sleep aids. (Some might be identifiable by having “PM” in their name). Make sure that you are very aware of the effects of these drugs before using them.

Preventative Measures

If you or your loved-one are over the age of 65, and are on Medicare, then you have a covered preventative exam each year. Use this to stay on-top-of your medical concerns and to ask questions about your fall prevention plan. The National Council on Aging has a nice resource here, that shows you what preventative services are covered with Medicare.

Step 5: Make Your Home Safer

Here are the top safety concerns to address in your home:

  • Stairs – the NOA suggests making sure you have plenty of light on your stairs. This is especially important at the top and the bottom of the stairs. Also, make sure your hand rails are sturdy and accessible.
  • Bathrooms – Handrails are useful around toilets, tubs and showers. For additional support, look into shower chairs and aids.
  • Sharp Edges – Take a good look around the home to see where you can remove or secure sharp or hard objects.
  • Pets – dogs, cats and other pets have a way of getting under-foot. Make sure the pet is not a safety hazard.
  • Other People – Alert all other friends and family members to be careful of where they are putting their possessions. Kids especially have been known to leave toys all over and in walkways.

In addition, we recommend this article from the NOA on how to safety proof your house.

Where to Turn When you Need Extra Help Preventing Falls

Even with the best prevention methods, there is always still a chance of a fall. As a result, part of your prevention plan should include what to do in the case of a fall.

Family, friends and neighbors are a good source of support. However, they are not always available. As a result, you may want to consider an outside source of support. There are many options these days for fall monitoring services, and for a good reason – they help save lives.

I believe that fall monitoring services offer peace of mind both seniors and their loved ones. Moreover, this sense of peace can create a less anxious atmosphere and prevent falls just by knowing help is always available. Knowing how common falls are, it is a good idea to keep assessing at what point you might be ready for a fall monitoring service.

Here are our Top Senior Monitoring Picks:

  • MobileHelp – Provides an alert system that works with a “Fall Button” that can automatically detect when a fall occurs. This company gets almost 5/5 stars in most consumer review panels. Learn more here.
  • LifeFone – Is our other top pick for Medical Alert Systems. It also is rated very highly and offers a free trial period. Spouses are also included in their standard pricing, which makes it a good choice for couples.
  • Iamfine – As a different kind of monitoring service, Iamfine is a daily call service that checks in with your loved ones by phone. If they fail to answer after a few attempts, Iamfine will alert your “care circle.” The service has a free 2 week trial period as well.

For More Information on Caring for Elderly Parents & How to Prevent Falls

If you are looking for more information on caring for elderly parents, or if you are making a plan for you older years, please visit this article where we cover:

Caring for Elderly Parents - a how to guide from medicare life health co.
  • Where can my aging parents/grandparents safely live?
  • What services and products can keep them safe and happy?
  • How can I help them with health care and insurance?
  • Who should be in charge of their finances?
  • Where can I go for support?

Conclusions on How to Prevent Falls

In summary, preventing falls in yourself and in your 65+ seniors, is a number one safety concern. As a result, you need to have a plan in place to keep everyone safe and healthy.

These steps will help you create your fall prevention plan.

  1. Take the Fall Prevention Quiz
  2. Work on Balance & Coordination
  3. Make Sure You Can See
  4. Check Your Health & Medications
  5. Make Your Home Safer

Finally, get outside help when needed, and know when you need to turn to a professional safety service. Falls do not have to be inevitable! We can all work together to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and independent as long as possible.

Caring for Elderly Parents

Caring for Elderly Parents

Caring for Elderly Parents: A How To Guide

Caring for Elderly Parents - a how to guide from medicare life health co.

Welcome to the ultimate guide to caring for elderly parents and/or grandparents. Aging is a natural part of life, and everyone should have a care plan for themselves and their aging loved ones. This guide helps you make the tough decisions to keep your loved ones safe and happy.

I personally know what it is like to live with elderly loved ones and care for them. I lived with my grandparents right before their health declined enough to move them to assisted living. It was the hardest year of my life. However, it was also rewarding to care for them after all of the years they cared for me.

This guide leads you through the decisions you will need to consider to help your elderly parents.

We will cover:

  • Where can my aging parents/grandparents safely live?
  • What services and products can keep them safe and happy?
  • How can I help them with health care and insurance?
  • Who should be in charge of their finances?
  • Where can I go for support?

Where can my loved ones safely live?

Senior Living Options with Medicare Life Health Co. is part of the caring for elderly parents series.

Helping your elderly parents or grandparents decide where they should live can be very emotional. This is true for all the people involved. The options range from staying at home to full-time care, and everything in between.

Senior Living Options

  • Living at Home – Options exist for helping your seniors live at home as long as possible.
    • There are non-medical care-giving services such as Home Instead and Right at Home. They provide help around the house and companionship, but not medical care.
    • The medical alert devices listed in the services in the next section also help give seniors and you peace of mind in regards to their safety. These are good for the home environment, as well as running around town.
  • Retirement Community / Apartment or Condo – Often times seniors will want to move to a retirement community or 55+ apartment or condo building. Seniors like the social aspects of these communities. In addition, there are add conveniences and informal safety networks in place to give everyone peace of mind.
  • Assisted Living – For seniors that need a level of care below the nursing home, assisted living is a great option. However, these homes can be expensive. There are not always spots open for low income or Medicaid beneficiaries.
  • Memory Care Centers – Dementia and Alzheimer’s is a growing disease in America. As a result, we see more centers and homes dedicated to residents with memory issues.
  • Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care – The last stop on the list is the nursing home / long-term care facilities. There are both private and public options in most cities, but it takes a lot of research to make sure you are finding the best fit for your loved one.

What services / products can keep elderly loved ones safe and happy?

Especially if your loved ones are living at home, there are different products and services that can give everyone peace of mind. These include aides to help with daily activities, as well as alert / check-in services.

Products to Keep Your Loved Ones Safe & Happy

Best gifts for seniors

We love products that keep seniors happy, independent and safe. Happily, more creative and innovative options exist that ever to make life easier. We are constantly on the hunt for life-improving and safety-enhancing innovations.

Best Gifts for The Elderly in Nursing Homes

For now, you can start by looking at our senior gift lists.

We love the idea of thoughtful and helpful house warming gifts for seniors that are making a move. Especially if this move was out of necessity. A little love and thought goes a long way with these big transitions.

Services to Keep Your Elderly Parents Safe

We all worry about falls and accidents. The elderly often experience a decline in balance and strength with each passing year. There are a few options out there of companies that will monitor your loved ones and give them the help they need in case of a fall. When we look at companies to refer you to, we look for ones with good customer service, customization options and no long-term contracts.

Here are our Top Senior Monitoring Picks:

  • MobileHelp – Provides an alert system that works with a “Fall Button” that can automatically detect when a fall occurs. This company gets almost 5/5 stars in most consumer review panels. Learn more here.
  • LifeFone – Is our other top pick for Medical Alert Systems. It also is rated very highly and offers a free trial period. Spouses are also included in their standard pricing, which makes it a good choice for couples.
  • Iamfine – As a different kind of monitoring service, Iamfine is a daily call service that checks in with your loved ones by phone. If they fail to answer after a few attempts, Iamfine will alert your “care circle.” The service has a free 2 week trial period as well.

How can I help elderly parents with health care and insurance?

If your loved one is either older than 65 or disabled, they probably qualify for the Medicare program. In addition, if they are living on a very small income, they could also qualify for Medicaid.

From a high level view, your loved one will need to choose if they want their Medicare coverage to be bundled with a Medicare Advantage Plan or to be put together with Original Medicare, a Supplement and a Drug Plan. These are the two paths to choose from.

Let’s back up now, and break down the parts of Medicare. We want you, the caregiver, to feel as comfortable and knowledgeable as possible when helping your seniors make their decisions.

Helpful Medicare Articles for Caregivers is a great resource for learning about Medicare. We have articles to show you how to set-up your loved one’s health care. We understand it is so important to make sure they get the coverage and care they need.

Here is where to go for more information:

Who can I call or email for help with Medicare/Medicaid/Health Care Insurance?

MedicareLifeHealth is a national community, but health care questions and registrations are often different state to state. So, we have a couple different resources for you to work with.

Carly Cummings, Medicare and Medigap Expert

If you live in Nebraska or Iowa: Your fearless leader of Medicare Life Health Co. (Carly Cummings – that’s me!) is a licensed life/health agent in NE and IA. I would be glad to help you with your questions and enrollment needs.

Please contact me here.

If you live in all other 48 States: We are building our directory of national insurance agents. Find one now:

Insurance Agents Near Me

Who should be in charge of caring for elderly parents’ finances?

There might come a time when you realize your seniors need help with their finances. As a result, you will discover two phases of caring for your elderly parents’ or grandparents’ finances:

  1. Assisting with their decisions.
  2. Taking over the decisions.

This same process translates to Medical decisions, so we will include information on both.

Durable Power of Attorney

When working with seniors to help them in making financial and medical decisions, you will want to set up “Durable” Power of Attorney (POA). This is a document that will give you (or someone else they trust) power to act in their place if they become mentally incapacitated.

The “Durable” part is important. Regular power of attorney documents end when a person becomes mentally incapacitated. Durable powers of attorney contracts do not. With this document, you will be able to help your elderly parent with important decisions when they cannot.

In addition, you will want to have two separate Durable Power of Attorney Documents:

  1. One for Medical
  2. And one for Financial.

Medical Power of Attorney (POA)

Commonly called the durable power of attorney for health care, this document names the person who will be making health care decisions for your elderly parent.

The named person will be able to enroll the elderly parent in medical plans, speak to doctors on their behalf, and represent their wishes in regards to medical care.

caring for a dying parent - a how to guide from medicare life health co. by crystal bayliss

You will also want to make sure your loved ones have a living will and a regular will. Knowing your loved one’s desires for how end of life care and services will go is very important. Please see our full article on “Caring for Dying Parents” here.

Financial Power of Attorney (POA)

Your elderly family member will also need to name someone to carry out their financial wishes when they cannot. This is where a comprehensive durable financial power of attorney is important.

Note, this should be a separate document from the medical POA. The financial POA allows someone take over your elder’s retirement accounts, taxes, and bills. For this reason, it needs to be someone they trust, and should be done as soon as possible to make sure they are represented in the ways they wish.

Working Together

Finally, although these are two separate documents, you certainly can name the same person on both. In fact, having the same person do both will make life much easier and simpler. If you do have different people named on each document, you will want to ensure they communicate well and can work together effectively.

Where can I get support for caring for elderly parents?

I remember pulling over to the side of the road, one very stressful day, because I couldn’t see through my tears to drive. At the time, I was living with my grandparents and trying to care for them while their health continued to decline.

Caring for Elderly Parents Stress Management: A How to Guide Presented by Medicare Life Health Co.

I was overwhelmed by the amount of work it took to keep them safe in their own home (even with the help of a home care company). Consequently, we were reaching the tipping point of needing to move them to assisted living. However, the thoughts about and process of this change were also just sad. It was a lot for me to handle.

Luckily, I had a very strong support system and access to help. You need this too.

Find Someone to Talk to Regularly

The first step is to reach out to someone to talk to and confide in. Care-giving takes a lot out of you. As a result, you need someone to listen to you and give back to you. Whether this is a professional counselor, or just a friend, you need to make “talking it out” a priority. Better yet, make your conversations a habit or a standing date.

Seek Outside Help

The second step is to get outside help. If your parent is still at home, see what is in the budget for hiring a care service. Even if just for a few hours a week. These companies help with daily living activities for seniors wanting to still live by themselves. (This is non-medical help.)

Alternatively, you can see what social network your seniors are a part of that might want to help. My mom was excellent at getting visitors for her elderly parents from not only their friends, church member, etc. but also from her own social network. You would be amazed at how many people are willing to swing by a nursing home and say hello during the week. You just have to ask!

Set-up Self-Care

Care-giving makes you busy, tired and often plain run-down. The only way self-care happens is when you make it a priority. Moreover, you need to set it in your schedule as an important appointment.

First, create and stick to a weekly workout schedule. Then, create a routine for getting healthy meals onto your table. Finally, make sure you keep your hair appointments, massages or other healthy ways to relax and stay on top of your health.

I know it is all easier said than done, but you will be much more efficient and helpful if you are well rested and cared for first.

Action Steps for Caring for Elderly Parents

checklist for aging parents and caring for your elderly parents and grandparents

In summary, caring for elderly parents, grandparent and loved ones is a long, hard journey. However, you are not alone! In addition to all the helpful organizations, services and innovations out there, there are also real people that want to love and support you. You cannot, and should not, do this alone.

Here are a few good steps to get you started or move you forward with your loved one’s journey.

  • First, if you are considering housing options, reach out to a home care service. If a move is a necessity sooner or later, start by touring one assisted living center or nursing home.
  • Second, for seniors living at home or even in assisted living, look into a couple of medical alert systems. Falls are all too common, and you need to be prepared.
  • Third, in regards to health care, reach out to a professional to make sure your loved one has the best coverage in their area. Plans change all the time, so a review is always a good idea.
  • Fourth, legally, make sure you understand what your loved one needs and wants in regards to making financial decisions. Get together all the proper documents needed to secure current or future Power of Attorney options.
  • See in your loved one has any Long-Term Care Insurance in place. Additionally, they could have a life insurance policy with a Long-Term Care Rider or a Critical Illness Rider.
  • Finally, create a plan now for taking care of yourself and start implementing it right away. You deserve it. Thank you for taking care of your elderly parents and loved ones.
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