Samsung Galaxy S4

Samsung Galaxy S4

As more seniors opt to age in place, the challenge becomes how to keep them connected to family and friends and avoid social isolation, which leads to depression and physical decline.

The first tech item a senior should have is a reliable and easy-to-use smart phone.  Traditional land lines can go down during a storm and, the ability to stay connected where ever they go, makes this a better option than a traditional phone.  Unfortunately many older people shy away from smart phones, assuming they’re too difficult to use.  Enter the Samsung Galaxy S4.

Its 5-inch screen specifically appeals to seniors who have struggling eyesight.  And, what’s even better is that there is an “Easy Mode” on the smart phone that transforms the phone’s display from a tech-savvy device into a very simple device.  The phone keyboard, icons and web browser are larger so that is it easier on the eye.  The applications on the phone also are also designed more simply so that everyone can enjoy them.  The Samsung Galaxy S4 is definitely a smart choice for seniors- keeping them in the loop with family and friends.


5 Reasons to practice yoga


As the caregiver for my father, husband and son, finding ways to stay physically and emotionally healthy are critical.  Yoga has been my saving grace.   Not only does yoga help me stay strong, it clears my mind and helps me release the stress of the day.  Before you say “I don’t have time…” trust me, it can be done at home in as little as 10 minutes.  You can hide somewhere in the house for that amount of time! Here are 5 reasons why yoga helps caregivers:

  1. Improves Cognitive Functioning

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles discovered that meditation from yoga could help lower a caregiver’s depression and improve their cognitive functioning.  This is especially important because researchers believe that caregivers are known to have an increased risk of depression and devotional distress, and yoga can help them cope with this.  With better cognitive functioning, caregivers (especially those of dementia patients) can focus on the task at hand.

  1. Promotes deep relaxation

Yoga promotes deep relaxation through deep breathing, meditation and exercises called postures and poses that stretch the body.  Yoga also makes it easier for a caregiver to fall asleep, which helps a caregiver relax as well. Yoga allows a caregiver to renew his/herself and “recharge” the batteries that enables people to go back to his/her caregiver situation with a refreshing perspective.

  1. Enhances concentration and mood

Yoga boosts oxygen levels to the brain, which ultimately decreases chances of depression and improves a caregiver’s mood.  A caregiver’s mood is very important when caring for a loved one.  A study performed by Boston University School of Medicine and McLean Hospital reported that doing one hour of asanas- a sequence of standing, sitting balancing poses helped people raise their levels of brain chemical GABA (low levels are linked with depression) by 27 percent.

  1. Allows for peaceful, alone time

Caregivers are a very important part of the healing process of a patient and they deserve to do something to take care of themselves.  Yoga is a mind-body practice that can help caregivers achieve peacefulness of body and mind and is the perfect activity for caregivers to partake in to clear their mind after a long day.  Being a caregiver is a 24/7 job and there are ups and downs everyday, but yoga can be private, independent time for a caregiver to enjoy.

  1. Improves Fitness

Many studies have been done that proves that regardless of age everyone should participate in some form of exercise.  Yoga can lead to improved balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength.  This way, caregivers are less likely to injure themselves in their daily activities of caring for a loved one.  Doing an activity that improves fitness would also improve a caregiver’s mood, as people release endorphins when they are active, ultimately helping a caregiver to stay positive.



CarelineWhen I was approached by VTech CareLine to act as their brand ambassador I was thrilled.  While my role as The Safety Mom started out with safety and wellness for children and teens, it has evolved into family safety with a strong emphasis on seniors and individuals with disabilities.  There’s a reason for that – I’m an only child and my dad has Alzheimer’s.  This past summer he had a stroke.  He also has macular degeneration and had knee replacement surgery many years ago that didn’t go to well.  So, basically he can’t see, can’t walk too well, needs help with virtually every activity of daily living (ADL) and often doesn’t remember my mom or me.  My mom, on the other hand, is in terrific health but has now dedicated her life to caring for my dad.

She’s an incredible woman and I’m sure there are many other spouses out there like her who have made the commitment to being a full time caregiver for their wife or husband.   But, as the adult daughter, I worry about emergencies.  What if she falls or hurts herself?  What happens if she slips getting him out of the bathtub and breaks her hip?  Of course she dismisses my concerns but they’re justified.  So when VTech provided me with a CareLine Phone System to review,  I realized she was the perfect person to really test it out.

I have to say up front that my mom is one that reads a manual cover to cover – I’m not.  If I can’t figure out how to use it on my own, I never will.  But mom said that this was completely easy to figure out.  Her biggest challenge is trying to find time to do things with my dad around so everything takes extra time but she set the Phone System up in a flash.

She loves that the base unit is large and has large numbers – it’s easy to use.

Her highest praise was for the pendant that comes with it.  She wears it rather than my dad as she’s worried that if he falls or gets hurt she wouldn’t be able to leave him to call 911.  With the pendant she can call anyone in an emergency.  She also loves the voice commands.  She can record reminders for paying a bill, sending out a birthday card or refilling a prescription.  She can make calls from the pendant and find out the date and time.  She says that literally anything can be done from the pendant.

The big question was whether the system was worth it?  Is it just a “nice to have” or a “must have?”  Her response surprised me.  I’ve never seen my mom as aging, and I still probably don’t want to, but she admitted that the thought of a fall or a stroke crosses her mind more often and is concerned what would happen to my dad in an emergency.  It was probably her first ever admission to me of some concern for her own well being.  So yeah, she considers it a “must have.”

I wrote this blog post while participating in a campaign by on behalf VTech Communications, Inc. and received payment for my participation. All opinions stated within are my own.

Sometimes the changes are subtle – forgetting what year it is or forgetting how to get to the local grocery store.  Other times it’s a dramatic event – a fall, a stroke or a heart attack.  At some point, our aging parents will need our help and, unfortunately, we are often unprepared for what that entails.  In many cases, our parents will even refuse our help and be defiant.

If you or someone you know is dealing with care giving issues for an aging parent, please join us for a very important Twitter party to talk about how this has impacted you and your family and some practical advice on how you can help them, even when they might not want it.

When – Wednesday, March 13th 9:00 – 10:00 PM ET

Our Sponsor VTech CareLine™

Hashtag – #VTechCares

Prizes – Three lucky winners will receive a  VTech CareLine™ home telephone and personal communication system.

RSVP – Be sure to follow @VTech411 & @AccessHomeLiving, leave us a comment below and follow #VTechCares during the party.

I wrote this blog post while participating in a campaign by on behalf VTech Communications, Inc. and received payment for my participation. All opinions stated within are my own.


Prepare for your aging parent release from a nursing facility or hospital discharge

Photo Courtesy of

At some point, many women (daughters) will be put in the difficult position of caring for their aging parent.  Sometimes the evolution is gradual but it can literally be overnight when a senior experiences a fall or suffers a stroke.

This issue of “what now?” when dealing with an aging parent returning home after rehab or a hospital stay is going to be the subject of several blog postings as it really could fill an entire book.  But, for this one, let’s just talk about some quick, practical matters to deal with the first few days once you bring your parent home.

Make the home  accessible – Depending upon the mobility issues for your aging parent, it might not  be possible to go up and down stairs.  A  bedroom might need to be set up on the first floor.  If a bathroom is not accessible, you’ll need  to bring in a commode.  Grab bars should  be installed and a wheel chair ramp might be required.

Check insurance  coverage  – Medicare  will only cover 100 days in a nursing home.  It will then only cover rehab or in-home nursing services that are  deemed medically necessary.  Additionally, if you will be hiring an in-home caregiver for your aging parent understand that  hiring a service that works with Medicare will limit your selection of the  provider.  It’s important to check with  your parent’s private insurance to understand what they will cover and find out  whether they had long term care insurance.

Enlist support  from community resources, friends and family – There will be  well-meaning friends who will offer to help in any way they can with your aging parent – take them up  on it!  If you’re juggling work and kids as well as caring for your parent, you’ll make yourself sick and that won’t do anyone any good.  Ask people to help out  taking your parent to their follow-up doctor appointments, grocery shopping,  washing clothes – anything that can help ease your burden.  There are many senior service agencies in the  local community who can help with transportation, meals on wheels and other  needs.  Also look into respite care,  adult day care.

Set up lines of communications for emergencies – Even if you’re able to leave your  parent alone for lengths of time, you want to have the ability to check in on  them.  Look into monitoring systems such  as BeClose which will alert care givers if  there is an emergency or even changes in daily activity such as not getting out  of bed, not leaving the bathroom, etc.  You also want to be sure that they have a way of communicating in an  emergency.  The VTech Careline phone system comes with a pendant they can wear around their neck  or on their waist with two buttons pre-programmed phone numbers they can press  in an emergency.

Have “the talk.”   People don’t like to talk about death but now that there’s been one life threatening situation, make sure that you know their
wishes in regards to end of life decisions.  Be sure they’ve established power of attorney for both financial/legal and health matters.  Keep these letters  with you in case of another emergency.  Here’s a great site to understand the issues you need to address.

I wrote this blog post while participating in a campaign by on behalf VTech Communications, Inc. and received payment for my participation. All opinions stated within are my own.


VTech Survey Finds Communication and Isolation Top Concerns for Seniors and Caregivers

The ability to remain connected and the safety concerns of being alone are the top issues on senior’s minds according to a recent surveyconducted by VTech Communications.

The VTech Caregiver/Senior Communications Survey found that caregivers worried most about the time seniors were alone, while seniors missed an active social life.  In fact 41% of seniors surveyed said their top challenge was not being as active or social as they would like.  While many seniors would prefer to age-in-place, it’s clear that the ability to stay active within the community and maintain relationships is important for both their emotional and physical well-being.  Isolation and loneliness leads to depression in over 15% of people over the age of 65 and
subsequently increases their healthcare costs by 50%.  This lack of connection is also of concern as it relates to safety.

Many seniors experience long hours alone at home – 91.6 percent of seniors surveyed said they spend time alone during the week.  Their top worries,along with their caregivers’ concerns, included:

  • Fall or injury (76.1 percent of caregivers and 33 percent or seniors)
  • Medical event or injury requiring immediate assistance (60.8 percent of caregivers and 25.2 percent of seniors)
  • Other general problems that seniors wouldn’t feel equipped to deal with alone (45.9 percent of caregivers and 14 percent of seniors)

In the survey, seniors and caregivers identified products they felt would keep them connected and safe while allowing them to maintain independent lifestyles:

  • Communication tools such as email, phones, cellphones and Skype – 41.7 percent total
  • Healthcare technology such as blood pressure monitors and medication dispensers – 36.7 percent total
  • Personal safety products such as wearable pendants to call someone in case of an emergency and home alarm system – 29.4 percent

VTech’s CareLine Personal Communications System Helps Fill Gaps

Addressing caregiver needs to reach their loved ones, and seniors’ desire to remain connected and social, VTech’s new CareLine™ home safety telephone system supports independent living. Designed with experts in aging and technology, the CareLine system (MSRP: $119.95), includes a full-featured corded phone, a cordless handset and a wearable pendant. Blending the comfort and ease of a home phone with the security and flexibility of personal safety products, CareLine puts the ability to connect with trusted contacts at seniors’ fingertips.

Designed to meet the daily communication needs of seniors, the wearable pendant allows them to conveniently make and receive calls, listen to voicemail messages, review missed calls or receive programmed reminders for medication, appointments or other events.

“I wrote this blog post while participating in a campaign by on behalf VTech Communications, Inc. and received payment for my participation. All opinions stated within are my own.”

I’ve become an emotional wreck worrying about my parent’s safety.  There needs to be a support group for adult children scared to death that their aging parent is going to fall, or incur an injury in some other manner.    I know I’m not alone in my concern.  With 10,000 people turning 65 years of age every day, our society is aging and becoming more vulnerable.  In fact 1 out of every 3 people over the age of 65 will experience a fall this year and falls are the leading cause of injury and death for seniors.

While aging-in-place is the goal for most seniors, how do you, as the adult child, insure sure they’re safe?  The primary issue is to be sure they have a connection to the outside world in case there’s an emergency.  One senior safety product that just hit the market is the Careline™ Home Safety Telephone System” from VTech.  I had the opportunity to check it out this week and there are several aspects that I like:


      • Portability – Most of our parents have their phones attached to their wall or sitting on a table.  In reality, it’s important that a cordless
        phone be situated on the floor so if the person falls they can reach the phone.  The Careline System allows for 12 devices to be connected which means there can be a cordless phone in every room.  Be sure there’s one in the bathroom, bedroom and at the bottom of staircases, the most likely places a senior will experience a fall.
      • Ease of use – As people age, their fine motor skills as well as their vision diminish.  The Careline System not only has oversized buttons but allows you to have four pre-programmed numbers with photos of the person on them.  No more trying to remember a number, just press the button for a caregiver, neighbor and even emergency responders.
      • Emergency pendant – The VTech Careline System comes with an oversized pendant with the buttons to reach the four pre-programmed emergency contacts.  What I particularly like about this pendant is that, unlike similar products, this can also be snapped onto a belt, pants or jackets and doesn’t necessarily need to be worn around the person’s neck.

The VTech Careline Home Safety Telephone System is not a monitoring system so there’s no monthly fee.  It retails for $119.95 and can be purchased online or at Radio Shack.  The system comes with a base unit, one cordless phone and the pendant but up to 12 other phones or pendants can be added so both mom and dad could have a pendant if necessary.  For the price, it’s a great phone system that also gives you a little peace of mind. You can get more information at their site,

I wrote this blog post while participating in a campaign by on behalf VTech Communications, Inc. and received payment for my participation. All opinions stated within are my own.



True multi-generational living rather than a Med Cottage “Granny Pod”

The term Granny Pod has made its way into mainstream media this week thanks to a company called MedCottage.  The concept has even been fodder for late night comedians.  PALS Built was also mentioned in these articles but there were a few inaccuracies which need to be addressed. Our company was founded on the belief that the best living situation for every generation is multi-generational living – under one roof.

While finances are a primary motivator for multigenerational living, the emotional benefits are tremendous for the entire family.  Anyone who has had the unfortunate need to visit someone in a nursing home can attest to the fact that it is a horrible experience.   And, for a significant percentage, the only reason they are in a nursing home is because they do not have a ground floor bedroom and handicap accessible bathroom.  The reality is that nursing homes are sad, depressing environments. A recent clientof PALS Built provided a moving commentary on how important it was for her to keep her father-in-law out of a nursing home and living with her family.

Multigenerational households were common in the earlier part of the 1900’s but then, as people scattered across the country, this changed.  Now, out of financial necessity the percentage of families with at least three generations living under one roof is increasing.

PALS Built provides handicap accessible modular home additions that are seamlessly attached onto a loved-ones’ existing home.  Most importantly, it can be installed within eight weeks from the time the permits are pulled.  And, because it is a considered an addition rather than a separate free-standing structure, there are no issues with zoning.    While PALS Built modular home additions are attached to the family’s home, there is still a private entrance for the resident to allow him or her to maintain a level of independence.  It provides privacy with proximity to insure the senior’s safety.  What’s more, a PALS Built addition can be custom designed to address the needs and desires of the resident.