Here are our latest picks of gadgets and gizmos to make your loved one’s life – and yours – a little easier. This time we’re looking at things to help your loved one remain independent as long as possible, which is a goal of many seniors, of course. We’re also looking at tools to help keep your loved one safe, like the TripTrak GPS device that allows you to quickly locate a wandering loved one.
Sometimes as people get older, or if they have conditions like Parkinson’s disease that cause hand tremors, drinking from a cup can be difficult. Their hands shake a little and liquids splash out of the cup. A cup with a lid can help make drinking less messy and less embarrassing. If you have a cup with a lid, you’ll probably need a straw to go with it. Staw-lution is the perfect solution.
Straw-lution is a drinking straw with little anchors on it. When you push the straw through a hole in a cup, the anchors compress so the straw goes through the hole. Once through the hole, however, the anchors expand and firmly hold the straw in place. You can actually pick the cup or container up by the straw and the straw will not come out.
Straw-lution can be used for things other than drinks, too. Insert it through the foil covering on a cup of yogurt or applesauce, for instance, and your loved one can sip those foods through the straw. It’s a handy way for people to feed themselves when they have difficulty handling a spoon due to hand tremors.
These straws are made from the same material most drinking straws are made from, but they are thicker than typical straws, making them fairly durable. They are dishwasher safe and you can reuse them a number of times, but they are also affordable enough that if saving one and washing it isn’t convenient, you can just toss it out. A pack of 12 is only $4.99 or you can purchase a four-pack for just $16.99. They are available in four colors – yellow, blue, green and pink. You can order them online at www.strawlution.com. By the way, they work great with kids as well as adults!
Induction Cooktop for Safe Cooking
In order to live safely on their own, our elderly loved ones need to be able to safely prepare meals. This becomes a challenge for those in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. They may turn on the stove and forget to turn it off, creating a fire hazard.
Enter the Induction Cooktop for Safe Cooking from Independent Living Aids, LLC. This is a 12-inch square cooktop that only heats up when a pan made of enamelware, iron or stainless steel is placed on the cooking surface. When the pan is removed, the cooktop shuts off. It also has an auto shut-off function to prevent overheating, so if your loved one forgets dinner is cooking, it will turn itself off. It has three temperature settings and a 99 minute timer. The controls are easy to operate and it heats up about as quickly as a gas stove does.
You can order the Induction Cooktop for Safe Cooking by calling 800-537-2118 or visiting Independent Living Aids, LLC online at www.independentliving.com. It retails for $149.95 and comes with a covered frying pan.
About 24 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. One of the most challenging things to deal with is the wandering behavior that is so common with these individuals. They may wander outdoors in the middle of the night in the snow in their pajamas. Some people with Alzheimer’s have been found miles away from home. Some suffer serious injuries or even die.
TripTrak, in conjunction with AAA, offers technology that can save lives for individuals that may wander. It’s a small GPS device, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. It could fit into your loved one’s pocket or you could attach it to the inside of their clothing in some way. If your loved one wanders off, you just call the toll free number. The call center is staffed around the clock and they can tell you exactly where your loved one is. The device also has an SOS button. If someone pushes the button, the call center staff will notify local police and they will be dispatched to respond to an emergency situation.
You can rent a TripTrak device for $21 per week but purchasing one is probably more cost effective. The purchase price is $75 for AAA members and $99 for non-AAA members. There is also a monthly service fee of $19.95. Visit TripTrak online at www.trip-trak.com or call 800-AAA-1008 to order.
The Federal Trade Commission reports that about nine million Americans are victims of identity theft each year. Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information, like your Social Security number, credit card numbers or bank account information, and uses it to commit fraud. Your credit can be ruined and you may even find yourself responsible for paying bills you did not actually incur.
Older adults make attractive targets for identity thieves. They often have good credit, may not be very careful about shredding personal documents or protecting their information online, and may be easily fooled into giving out personal information over the phone.
Identity Guard offers three options for protection. All three monitor your loved one’s credit report and monitor their address to let them know if any of their credit cards, banks or other lenders receive requests to change their address. They provide Lost Wallet Protection that notifies their lenders if their credit cards are lost or stolen. In the event your loved one’s identity is stolen, they provide assistance. Some of the plans offer additional forms of protection, like giving them their credit scores from all three credit bureaus and patented anti-virus and anti-spyware programs for their computer. All offer some insurance in case your loved one’s identity is stolen, with the more expensive plans offering more insurance.
Identity Guard costs $9.99, $14.99 or $17.99 per month, depending on which option you choose. You can sign up for a free two-week trial on their website at www.identityguard.com or call 800-452-2541 for more information.