November is National Family Caregivers Month. My mom had a massive disabling stroke five years ago.  It came without warning to me at the time and I became a caregiver that June afternoon. My once independent 55 year old mother could no longer live alone and she was no longer the woman I used to know.  This is who she is now.  Today she is good.  Tomorrow, she may not be. Each day brings a new challenge. Many children are the caregivers for their parents who are struggling to stay independent.

Mom refused to leave her house even though it was not the best choice for her to stay.  She refused to move into my home where I could more easily help her on a daily basis.  She feared moving in with my family would strip her of any independence the stroke didn’t take from her.  She wants nothing more than to live in her house and while it is difficult making this happen it is important to her. Thankfully my brother was willing to move back home for her which was not an option for me but we will still have to worry about balancing her safety with her independence every day.

With demands on my time, I am always searching for ways to make living in her home easier and less stressful for me. Taking pills at the right time of day, multiple times a day can be confusing. Skipping doses or taking too many pills has serious consequences. There are several options on the market and I chose The Med-Q Pill Box. The Med-Q Pill Box ($54.95) is an automatic pill dispenser with flashing light technology as well as an alarm system.   The container blinks in bright red as the alarm is going off, clearly letting you know which pills you are supposed to take. Your family member has to be alert enough to push the “next alarm” button or the alarm keeps going off every half hour on the pills they just took, instead of pushing the time ahead to the next alert.  Rather than calling mom multiple times a day and appearing to nag her I bought Reminder Rosie.  Reminder Rosie ($119.95) is a talking clock that reminds you of your medication, appointments and any tasks that you program. I can program up to 25 reminders on Reminder Rosie in my own voice allowing me to assist mom with daily tasks and gentle reminders.  Finally, the Great Call provides Mobile Personal Emergency Response Systems.  Older Personal Emergency Response Systems worked only at home with a base station connected to a landline phone but now mom can take it where she goes.  She feels more secure knowing that if she walks around the block for exercise that she has emergency assistance with her at all times. The Splash model has fall detection which is important for those who are susceptible to falling and balance issues.  I can also track her via GPS to make sure she returns home safely. The Splash model starts at $49.99 to purchase plus the monthly plan and activation. These are a few of the tools I utilize to help mom stay at home independently and reduce my stress as a care giver.

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