The Value of Independence in Senior Living

A few years ago, I read an article comparing American values to the values in some developing countries. The writer emphasized that autonomy and independence are as integral to American culture as the proverbial baseball and apple pie. In some countries, particularly developing nations, interdependence is emphasized, but in the United States, our goal as parents is to raise kids who can survive, and thrive, without us. A couple of years ago, I found that, at virtually the same time, both of my daughters went through tricky transitions on the road to independence. One wanted to do everything herself, but couldn’t. The other could do most things for herself, but wouldn’t. It was a frustrating phase, but in retrospect, it taught me a lot about the role of independence in senior living.

TiedShoesSetting Realistic Expectations

The key to successfully maintaining independence in an assisted living facility is to set realistic expectations. Determining your residents’ abilities and capabilities is the first step. In assisted and independent living facilities, most residents can successfully handle the following tasks.

  • Using the restroom
  • Coming and going at will
  • Preparing simple meals and snacks
  • Selecting their own television shows, reading material, etc.
  • Brushing their teeth, showering, and other basic grooming skills

A well-meaning caregiver who steps in and intercepts when help is not required brushes aside a lifetime of independence, a process that can slowly erode the resident’s sense of self-esteem and autonomy.  There are many advantages to fostering independence in seniors, including emotional, psychological, and physical benefits, and a more independent group of residents lightens the load of caregivers, allowing them to focus on the residents’ who truly require help.

Utilizing Technology

Resident Check-In

Technology can help seniors maintain their independence or sense of independence for much longer. Technology such as resident Check-In, automated resident reminders, and wearable safety devices can provide the independence that seniors desire.

If you’re looking to give your residents the gift of independence, without compromising life safety or wellness, contact us at Tel-Tron.

Dignity Can’t Exist Without Independence

boyontoilet

Dignity at All Ages

It’s never cool to walk in on someone when they’re going to the bathroom. Even when that someone is 5. And you’re there to, you know, help. I have learned this the hard way. If a door is closed, knock. Dignity is important, even to a 5 year old.

Kids can teach you a lot about the value of dignity. And privacy. And independence. Further proof, if we needed it, that people don’t really change all that much when they get older. Their abilities may evolve, or in some cases devolve, but the need for autonomy remains the same. Dignity simply can’t exist without independence. It’s a fundamental component of happiness, whether you’re 5 or 95, and research supports this claim. Studies have repeatedly shown that maintaining independence is a primary goal and concern from many seniors.

Avoiding Dependence on Caregivers

A senior who enters an assisted living facility has been dressing himself and preparing his own meals his entire adult life. Slowly, however, with the well-intentioned care of an attentive staff, those tasks are taken over for him. Someone else pours his coffee, ties his shoes, and tells him when he can and can’t go out for a walk. All of this help can lead to helplessness.

Helpless Adult

Art Carr, Founder and President of Progressive Retirement Group, put it this way in a recent blog on the Senior Housing Forum: “…the cumulative effect of family, friends and/or healthcare professionals telling the senior that they CAN’T or SHOULDN’T continue doing specific tasks (e.g. laundry, yard work, cooking) and/or caregivers taking over responsibility for these functions weighs on the individual.  Ultimately, they’ll give in and become dependent on the caregiver – EVEN WHEN THEY COULD STILL DO IT THEMSELVES!”

Technology Aids Independence

Tel-Tron develops its products with independence in mind. We want your residents to maintain their independence and dignity for as long as possible. When technology is subtle and unobtrusive, it fits into a resident’s lifestyle, providing solutions that preserve privacy and enhance the assisted living experience. Tel-Tron’s Life-Safety products offer a wide range of customizable solutions to meet the needs of your Senior Living/Assisted Living facility, including:

Resident Check-In devices for Independent Living without intrusive staff checks.

Push-button call stations that blend in with the surrounding decor.

Incontinence alerts that provide silent alerts to caregivers.

Wearable wireless pendants for mobile, independent residents.

Automated wander-prevention solutions to reduce elopement risk.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss how Tel-Tron can keep your residents safe while maintaining their dignity.

E-Call Systems are Boring

E-Call is BoringFirst, I want to introduce myself.  My name is Kevin Manley.   I’m Tel-Tron’s new Director of Marketing and SaaS (that’s Software-as-a-Service, not Sass).  You may have seen the great press release I wrote about myself a few weeks ago.  I’ve been at Tel-Tron for about 2 ½ months now and my primary observation so far about the E-Call (Emergency Call) industry is that this is some pretty dry stuff.  The last time there was any levity in this business was “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” and that wasn’t even supposed to be funny.  It was just bad acting.

Leading Age and ALFA
Absurdly Happy SeniorI was sent to help at our booth at the Leading Age Expo two weeks after I joined Tel-Tron, ready to talk about our products.  As I walked around the Expo, I saw a lot of E-Call devices and booths showing absurdly happy stock-photography seniors.  Ever notice that those same exact happy stock-photography seniors are on all of the senior living marketing materials?  Maybe you have to be a marketer to notice that kind of thing.  A few months later I attended ALFA (with a little more industry knowledge under my belt).  I observed that one common topic that no one was talking about in the break-out sessions at Leading Age or ALFA was E-Call systems.  Why?  Because it’s boring.  We don’t really want to talk about it either (except our engineers … they love this stuff).

To be fair, “boring” doesn’t mean to imply that E-Call is a commodity or unnecessary.  You count on your E-Call system to work flawlessly to protect your residents.  We also count on sophisticated airplanes to fly us all around the world, but we don’t talk about them.

What is everyone talking about?

So, then, what were the topics that senior-living leaders were talking about at Leading Age and ALFA?

They were … Regulatory Compliance, Staff Accountability, ROI/NOI, Fall Detection, Elopement, Resident Dignity, Family Peace of Mind, Risk Management, Efficiency through Technology, and Sales & Marketing.

What may surprise you is that these are also the same topics that we talk about at Tel-Tron.  We don’t talk about E-Call.  We talk about your business.  We know that having the right E-Call partner and system can directly affect each of these areas and help you run a better business.

Improving Your Business
ROI Growth
If you really do want to talk with us in detail about E-Call systems, we don’t recommend calling right after a large lunch.  That would become naptime.  However, if you’d like to chat about how having Tel-Tron as your life-safety partner can affect the business outcomes that are important to you, call us anytime.

Over the next few weeks, my posts will cover several of the topics above that are important to senior-living operators and owners and, therefore, important to us.  Feel free to add a comment.

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