Aging at home is usually most people’s preferred way to spend life’s autumn years.  To do so, it is a good idea to make some changes in order to ensure safety and comfort for ourselves or our loved ones.  Michael Joseph, an experienced interior designer, offers ways to make a home the ideal place for seniors to enjoy their days and to maintain their independence – without the worry of accidental falls or injury.

Thank you, Michael, for your practical tips.



7 Ways Seniors Can Make their Home Elderly-Friendly

If you are one of those who would like to live out your years in the beautiful home you have so lovingly built over the years when your children were growing up, the thought of shifting to an assisted living facility will certainly not appeal to you.  But as the years roll by, the inescapable facts of slower mobility, weaker grasping capacity, fading eyesight, and the tendency to lose your balance, raise the following question, “What can I do to modify my own home so that I am able to take up the challenges of life independently and in a meaningful way?”

Here are seven simple ways in which you can do this. Take a walk around your home and look at things from a fresh perspective. And if you need advice, there’s a wealth of information online to help you along the way.1


1.  Keep your home free of all clutter

Unnecessary clutter can make it difficult and even unsafe for an older person to move around freely at home, so the first step is to eliminate all such clutter. Put away extra stuff that is not normally needed. Ensure that the electrical cords of appliances and electronic equipment are arranged safely out of the way.


2.  Make alterations to reduce the risk of falling

Many areas in the home need attention if you are to reduce the risk of falling. Your floors should be made of slip-resistant material, especially in the bathroom and kitchen. Avoid the use of area rugs, but if you must have them, secure them with non-skid tape. If your floors are carpeted, use low-pile carpeting, which is safest for those using walkers or who have a problem with keeping their balance.

Thresholds are a dangerous trip-point so, wherever possible, have threshold-free doorways.

Installation of grab bars around the tub, shower and toilet will provide stability and safety. Make sure that these grab bars are anchored solidly onto the walls. Handrails fitted onto staircases, at waist-length, will be of great help to those who, occasionally, need to steady their balance. Stairs that are all one color can be unsafe for many older people who have fading eyesight or loss of depth perception.  If the edge of the tread on the staircase is clearly defined with a contrasting color, it will help prevent falls.

Cover your entranceway so that during the wet weather it will remain dry and prevent you from slipping. Just inside the entranceway, place a small table and chair or bench for putting down stuff you have brought into your home. This will provide a measure of safety and comfort when you come in and as you change your shoes.


3.  Adjust things systematically for easy accessibility

There are heaps of ways in which you can make things easy for yourself, some of which are listed below:

  • Replace door knobs with lever handles that are easy to pull. This will help particularly if you have trouble manipulating the door knobs because of arthritis.


  • In the bathroom, replace dual water faucets with single-handle lever faucets, which apart from being easy on your hands, will reduce the chances of scalding yourself at the sink. A pressure-balanced control will do the same in the shower where a hand-held showerhead will be far easier to use for someone with limited mobility. While grab bars may help with negotiating the bath tub, it makes more sense to install a seated step-in shower with an entry which has a minimal step to go over, if any.


  • Place light switches (illuminated rocker switches instead of the standard toggle type) lower down on the walls so that they can be accessed easily, even by someone in a wheelchair.



4.  Improve lighting arrangements

It is essential to have sufficient lighting in every room, in the hallway, near doorways, on the stairways and especially at the main entryway.  Don’t forget the porches and pathways outdoors as well. Put night lights in wall outlets and leave them on at night in the bathroom and kitchen at least. Alternately, install motion-sensitive lighting throughout your home.

Let plenty of natural light enter the home in the daytime but use blinds or drapes to control any unnecessary glare.


5.  Beef up security arrangements 

Elderly people are often soft targets for unscrupulous elements, so it is imperative that you strengthen your security arrangements.


6.  Reduce Energy Costs 

If your budget permits, you can also strengthen your home’s thermal envelope by changing doors and windows to energy-efficient replacements. Elderly folk can benefit from the greater degree of comfort, security and savings in energy costs that these provide. The newer replacement windows with their dual-paned glazing and low-E coating are much stronger than the old single-paned windows and with laminated coating, they become tougher and more difficult to break into. You might want to consider investing in energy-efficient windows with Comfort365 from Champion Window. These have the Energy-Star labels and you’ll save significantly on your utility bills over time.


7.  Widen entry doors

If you intend to install a new entry door, consider widening the doorway to make it easy to maneuver a wheelchair easily through it and fit the door with a wide-angle peephole at a lower height for the simple reason that with age, height also decreases.


Additional Resources:

American Association of Retired Persons:

Home Modification Resource Center:

National Council on Aging:

The AARP Home Fit Guide at

Rebuilding Together:



About the author

My name is Michael Joseph, a freelance writer who has had 12 years of experience as an interior designer. I have a natural flair for interior and exterior home decor. I believe home improvements should not only be aesthetic but sensible and energy-efficient as well.


As I begin my 7th year as a family caregiver, I feel like an accomplished event coordinator!  It is hard to grasp the depth of emotional investment and the variety of tasks that a caregiver takes on.  Not only do we deal with the actual treatments, but we coordinate a myriad of related functions – such as special diets, appointments with health care professionals, making important health care decisions for our carees, medication refills & administration, home modifications, assessing & documenting the current health condition in order to discuss changes or lack of improvement with physicians, being a voice for our loved ones with medical professionals, nurturing our caree’s emotional state, etc. – AND we must still take care of the non-caregiving duties – such as grocery shopping, finances, taking care of children, updating family and friends, etc.  To top it all off, about half of family caregivers in the US are also working full-time!

How can a family caregiver manage all this?  How can caregivers find support?

In Austin, Texas, family caregivers can call on Halcyon Home for help.  Halcyon Home was launched in March 2012 with the mission “to bring the most exceptional care to your home and your loved ones” and to incorporate a “peaceful, idyllic setting for you even in the hardest and most stressful of times.”  Amy Sweet, MHS, PA-C & CEO of Halcyon Home, was a caregiver for her aunt.  She and her “highly educated and trained medical, business and eldercare professionals” had been caregivers and understand all too well the type of quality help that caregiving demands. They not only assist with the care of our loved ones, but also aid family caregivers to carry out many other tasks that are indirectly related to caregiving.

After their initial free assessment, Halcyon Home will generate a custom plan for your loved one’s particular needs to help make aging at home a better experience.

Some of the services Halcyon Home provides:

Personal Assistance Services

  • Bathing & grooming
  • Medication reminders
  • Respite care
  • Dementia & Alzheimer’s care
  • End-of-life care
  • Transportation
  • Companionship


Concierge Services

  • Errands, driving
  • Doctor’s appointments
  • Checking on loved ones
  • Cooking, cleaning, bill paying
  • Email & secretary assistance
  • Organizing
  • Information gathering
  • Waiting for repair people
  • Hospital sitting
  • Basic computer training & skills


One of the best features of Halcyon Home is that they do not require a minimum number of hours to begin services!  In the past, I have encountered hourly requirements that were higher than what I needed, which kept me from getting any help at all.  I am glad that Halcyon Home is realistic about what caregivers require and gives them due priority!

To complement Halcyon Home’s services, Transitions Geriatrics Group provides help and support for seniors and for people with disabilities who cannot visit a doctor’s office.  They have fully licensed, credentialed medical professionals who can come to the caree’s home (wherever “home” may be).  This is a truly helpful service, especially for persons living with chronic pain or with severe mobility impairments.  Their physicians can be your caree’s primary doctors or they can work with his or her current care team.

Among the services that Transitions Geriatrics Group provides are:

  • Routine medical examinations
  • Prescription refills
  • Regularly scheduled visits
  • Diagnostics tests
  • Blood draws

Transitions Geriatrics Group can also coordinate hospital admissions, transitions between facilities and care delivery between “families, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, nursing agencies and other Home Health Services.”

A growing movement across the US toward making house calls again is a welcome – necessary, really – feature in healthcare.  It prevents unnecessary suffering for persons for whom walking, sitting or traveling is a terrible ordeal. (My husband has had to postpone a few doctors’ appointments because he was in too much pain to travel in a car!)  Transitions Geriatrics Group and Halcyon Home allow extraordinary patients to continue to receive their treatments without exacerbating their already delicate physical condition.

More information on how Halcyon Home and Transitions Geriatrics Group can help your caregiving follows.  As a family caregiver for my husband, disabled due to CRPS, I welcome the valuable services that both groups offer caregivers and carees.  I see them as the next step in caregiving: a way to provide family caregivers with excellent, realistic assistance in all aspects of caregiving, and a way to keep their loved ones safely at home.


Transitions Geriatrics Group   512.452.2100

Halcyon Home                          512.815.9009



What prompted Amy Sweet to start Halcyon Home?

Amy took care of her Aunt for 15 years. When her Aunt, who suffered a rare blood disorder, needed additional care in the home, she had difficulty trying to find the right “fit.” She wanted someone who had experience, was skilled, could help in every aspect of daily living, was an out-of-the-box thinker and resourceful. She wanted a caregiver that was not just a “warm body” in the home but someone that would enrich her aunt’s life.



What is different about Halcyon Home that other agencies may not offer?

Amy Sweet is a licensed Physician’s Assistant with 12 years experience. Halcyon Home has the ability to assess any situation and stave off a trip to the emergency room. Amy is always a phone call away and spends several hours a week personally meeting with each client for a full assessment.  Halcyon Home is one of the only companies in the city [Austin, Texas] that has the ability to perform Physician Delegated tasks. Typically, [with] a non-medical company such as ours, a caregiver cannot “touch” the client.  However, with the Physicians Delegated task option, our caregivers can help with activities such as changing a pain patch, helping with diabetic hosiery, and help with lymphedema equipment.

We also offer clients and caregivers the ability to ALWAYS speak with a Halcyon Home admin team member. We take turns “on call,” as well as answer the phone 24/7!! Never will you get an automated voice!



What forms of payment do you accept?

We take long-term care insurance, private pay. We recently began accepting Medicare. We have added a skilled nursing piece/options to our company as well.



What does Transitions Geriatrics Group do?

TGG is a group of 4 MD’s and 8 mid-level providers (Nurse Practitioners and Physicians Assistants) that make house calls to the homebound or disabled geriatric population. We have the ability to follow a patient from Hospital back to “home.” Home may be a Personal Care Home, Assisted Living facility, Independent Living facility, Skilled Nursing Facility or an actual private home.



What is Amy Sweet’s vision of in-home care in the future?

The ultimate goal is to add both Home Health and Hospice to Halcyon Home. Amy has always believed (just as Dorothy said) “There is no place like home!”  Keeping people safe, comfortable, healthy in the comfort of home is extremely important and can ultimately stave off a rapid decline in health, as well as, encourage continuity and avoid going into the hospital.



What specific services do Halcyon Home and Transitions Geriatrics Group offer? 

Halcyon Home offers everything from help with Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s), transportation, medication reminders, medication management, house cleaning, cooking, packing and unpacking from a move or downsizing, office organization, bill paying, holiday decorating, hospital sitting, animal care, plant care and joyful companionship.

TGG offers skilled medical services from minor procedures in the home, podiatry, optometry, dermatology, X-ray’s, EKG’s, blood draws, prescription refills (must see MD) and specialty services.  TGG, in the coming months, will begin contracting with specialty Doctors to be able to offer Pulmonology, Cardiology, Internal Medicine, Nephrology, Psych nursing, and Neurology.



You said that Halcyon Home has no minimum hourly requirement.  How much advance notice is required to have a caregiver come to a client’s home?

Typically we request 24-hr. notice but have been known to get a contract signed and have a caregiver in place within 4-6hrs. We have several “on call” or “as needed” caregivers in place and ready to start at any time.



What areas do you serve at the moment?

We service Georgetown to San Marcos, Lakeway and Marble Falls [Texas].

Will this area expand?

At this point we don’t have plans to expand further than these areas but we are growing daily and are excited about the future….so it’s possible!!



Are you hiring caregivers? 

We are always looking for excellent, passionate caregivers with experience!  You can apply on our website at under the Employment tab.

What qualifications do you look for in an applicant?

We typically look for experience, reliable, CNA certified (not required but preferred), flexibility, has own transportation, experience with Alzheimer’s, Dementia and Parkinson’s (not required but preferred), and a true passion for taking care of others.



Do you train your caregivers?

Our caregivers a provided with 12 hours of unique training throughout the year. We invite caregivers to our office for initial training, as well as our personal homes to learn about aging in place, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Parkinson’s, teach cooking classes, offer transfer technique classes, how to combat caregiver fatigue, and helping families cope with end-of-life.

How do you make sure that they know what they need to know in order to properly care for clients?

When our marketing team meets with the family, we take lots of notes about the client, family, needs in the home, current living situation, family requests, type of caregiver needed, details of the care being provided, etc. Then, after visiting with our scheduling team we place the “right” caregiver in the home. It is important to match the skill-set of the caregiver with the needs of the family and client.



Do you carry out background checks? How extensive are these checks?

Yes. We do what is called the triple check. This involves and regular Texas background check, the Employee Misconduct Record and 2 reference checks.  Amy Sweet, owner, also meets with every caregiver upon being hired. It is important to her to make sure the “face of our company,” the caregiver, meets the standards for our clients.  We are very proud of our company and the caregivers we employ. We are looking for caregivers that “want” to be there and will work hard to provide the best care possible!



Are your doctors also practicing on their own? 

Not our main TGG employed Doctors.  However, we do have contract Physicians who will be providing specialty services and also work in hospitals.


What specialties are covered now?

Podiatry only at this point in time.

In the future?

Optometry, Dermatology, Pulmonology, Psychology, Nephrology, Neurology, Endocrinology and Cardiology.



What else would you like to tell families and caregivers?

I encourage families to check out the testimonials on our website Halcyon Home.  It is very important, when seeking a caregiver, that you use a company.  Reason being that they hire the employees, can staff positions no matter what the situation, can be a resource for additional care or services, and offer stability in the home.  We are locally owned and operated with close ties to the community. We want families to keep their loved ones in the comforts of home, aging gracefully and happily!!


Making the decision to move a loved one to an Assisted Living Residence is often the result of much research and soul searching.  Deciding whether to bring him or her back home for a visit can pose many new questions and raise new issues for the family.

Tess Young from Assisted Living Today helps you decide by presenting some pros and cons about making such a visit.  Thank you, Tess.


Should A Resident of Assisted Living Visit Home?

The holidays are usually the time when most families want to have everyone gather together. But for those who are living in an assisted living residence, this may or may not be the best choice. In this article we will discuss some pros and cons to help you decide whether a resident of assisted living should visit home or not.


The Pros of Taking a Trip Home

Bringing grandma or grandpa home for the holidays may be a positive thing for all members in many ways. While living away from family, elderly persons may feel detached or no longer part of the family in a way they wish they were. By bringing them home, you can re-live treasured moments from the past with photos, videos, songs and stories. The love of a family has a great healing power for the elderly and may find that they have renewed energy and passion even if it is only for a short time.

If loved ones have Alzheimer’s or dementia, bringing them home to familiar surroundings from their past may help them to re-live some happier times. This could be a great comfort for the whole family.

If you are worried that taking your loved ones out of their assisted living residence could affect their Medicare or insurance coverage, you need not worry. Most policies allow for trips out of the home for a little while providing that you take the steps to provide the necessary help needed for medication management, have wheelchair accessibility if necessary, and make sure they stick to their proper diet if a special one is required.


The Cons of Bringing Your Loved One Home

If your loved one is not very independent and needs round the clock care, you may want to re-consider bringing him or her home with you no matter how much you may want to see that relative. The holidays are a busy time of year and most people are cooking, shopping, driving around from place to place or doing many other things that may require them to be unavailable to tend to their loved one in the best way.

Another reason why some people may think it is not a good idea to bring residents home from an assisted living residence is that they could become homesick or lonely upon their return. This could send them into a depressive state that may be hard to get back out of. If you are worried about this being a problem, perhaps you could get your family together and see about paying a trip to visit them in their home. Most assisted living homes take the time to put up decorations, invite church choir groups to come sing carols, have children’s groups come in for a play or singing and other festive activities to ensure that everyone has a time to remember.

For your own loved one, if you do need to visit within his or her own home, be sure to bring some old photo albums of Christmases or other holidays gone by, a favourite ornament or memento that he or she may have, and perhaps spend a few minutes decorating the room in a festive manner. Bring some special homemade cookies or treats and bring that old smile back to your loved one’s face.

It is up to you whether or not you feel it would be in the best interest of your loved one to come home for the holidays or just have a visit from family in the assisted living home they dwell in. Remember that the holidays are a time for sharing and love. No matter where you are, just being together will be all that counts.


Author Bio: 

Tess Young writes about health and related information to elder care. Assisted Living Today is one of the community which takes care of elders to live their rest of life with lots of fun and entertainments. If you are in need of these community it is better to Find Assisted Living in your locality.


Are the elderly necessarily “old”?

I’ll bet most of us hadn’t thought that the terms could actually be two separate things!  The article below puts aging into perspective and helps the elderly use exercise as a way to deter “old age” from creeping up on them too soon.  Exercise and physical activity may just be the real fountain of youth!

Thank you, Ross, for opening up our minds and setting the record straight about exercising and aging.


Why rising longevity needn’t mean more “older” people

by Ross Stevens


We read so much these days about ever increasing longevity and how this is going to put so much pressure on the health service and on local authorities who
are responsible for care of the elderly. All this assumes, rather pessimistically, that people are going to carry on becoming “Old” at the same age as in the past.

Perhaps if more effort was put into helping people prevent old age showing itself until much later in life, the burden on welfare services would not necessarily rise in line with rising life expectancy. Tomorrow’s 80 year old could be like today’s 70 year old. Probably the most essential contribution to such an effort would have to come from much more focus on exercise and physical activities for the elderly.

The problem is that people have it ingrained in their minds that the elderly don’t “do” exercise. Here are some of the usual myths that abound and why they are totally unfounded:


Myth 1: There’s no point in exercising. I’m going to get old anyway.

Fact: Exercise and strength training helps you look and feel younger and stay active longer. Regular physical activity lowers your risk of succumbing to a variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity.


Myth 2: Elderly people shouldn’t exercise. They should save their strength and rest.

Fact: Research shows that a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy for the elderly.  There is absolutely no doubt about this whatsoever. Inactivity often causes the elderly to lose the ability to do things on their own and can lead to more hospitalisation, doctor visits, and use of medicines for illnesses.


Myth 3: Exercise puts me at risk of falling down.

Fact: Regular exercise, by building strength and stamina, prevents loss of bone mass and improves balance, actually reducing your risk of falling.


Myth 4: It’s too late. I’m already too old to start exercising.

Fact: You’re never too old to exercise! If you’ve never exercised before, or it’s been a while, start with light walking and other gentle activities.


Myth 5: I’m disabled. I can’t exercise sitting down.

Fact: Chair-bound people face special challenges but can lift light weights, stretch, and do chair aerobics to increase range of motion, improve muscle tone, and promote cardiovascular health.


Of course, people of a certain age cant just charge off and start exerting themselves willy-nilly, especially if they have not exercised much in the past.  The trick is to embrace the exercises that can benefit an ageing body, without damaging it. The goal of exercise for those aged over, say, 60 is not to burn calories or increase muscle bulk, but to build strength, endurance, balance and health for a better quality of life.


So, what are the best options available at little or no cost?


Swimming is a longstanding favorite of gerontologists and the elderly alike.  The benefits of swimming seem specifically tailored to the needs of the over 60s. Physical activity done in water takes away the pressure on painful joints and muscles. Movement is gentle and need not strain the body. It also helps build muscles and can have a strong positive effect on the heart and circulatory system. Additionally, there are many opportunities for swimming, as most larger towns and cities have public pools and many provide classes well suited to elderly swimmers.



Walking can be done at the precise pace that an older person is comfortable with. It improves cardio-vascular function and strengthens leg, pelvic and spinal bones and leg and core muscles. It is important to start slowly and
take precautions. For the very elderly and those in recovery, it may be wise to walk with a partner who pushes a wheelchair behind you. Even in these
circumstances, to walk is to build the strength to fight against permanent immobility.


Exercises at home

Older people can do many exercises in their own living rooms. These exercises are usually gentler versions of common work outs, such as wall press-ups (the same as a normal press-up except against a wall, not the floor) and light-weight arm curls can help build strong chest and arm muscles. Many exercises may be done from a chair, such as “squats” (lifting your body a short distance from the chair without using arms or momentum) and leg lifts. These exercises are convenient to do and help maintain bone and muscle strength throughout the body.


Warning Signs

However enthusiastic they may be, it goes without saying that elderly people need to be sensible and be particularly aware of warning signs that indicate fatigue or an emergency while exercising. The warning signs include chest pain or pressure, excessive shortness of breath, any intense pain, dizziness and nausea. If these symptoms occur, they should stop at once. If they persist, they
should consult their doctor.



Hallmark Care Homes

“Ross is a reformed tea addict who now gets his buzz from running and going to the gym. He is a copywriter for the digital generation and enjoys connecting with others in the industries he writes on behalf for.”



The list of apps below provides nutritional information for meals that you prepare at home as well as those that you eat at a restaurant.  You can also use these apps to track calories, protein, sugar, water, fruits and vegetables consumed daily to be sure  that your loved ones – and you! – are getting adequate amounts to stay healthy.

While the article is about tracking kids’ nutritional needs, caregivers can certainly use these apps to ensure that their carees are getting the right amounts of nutrients every day.

Thank you,, for contributing this useful post!














10 iPhone Apps for Tracking Kids Nutritional Needs

Republished with permission


Keeping up with what your child needs, what she doesn’t need, and what she’s actually eating can be difficult, but it’s also essential for parents who understand the importance of maintaining a healthy diet and are dedicated to instilling good eating habits in their kids. Fortunately, managing your child’s dietary needs and habits is easier than ever with the advent of the smartphone. Apple’s iPhone is capable of running some pretty powerful applications, and there are trackers in the App Store for almost anything you can imagine. These 10 are dedicated to nutrition and diet, and are great options for monitoring your child’s diet.


1.  Food Scanner: Good Food or Bad Food? – With your iPhone’s built-in camera you can take a picture of a food item’s UPC bar code and check it against over 200,000 food products stored in the FoodScanner app to receive exhaustive nutritional information. Managing calorie intake and monitoring ingredients of everyday foods is easier than ever, and can be handled through FoodScanner for the price of a $0.99 download.


2.  Meal Snap – Calorie Counting Magic – Taking a picture of your child’s meal with the built-in iPhone camera and running the Meal Snap app will return nutritional information on the entree quickly and accurately. If you’re a parent who’s obsessed with social media and documentation, Meal Snap also lets you share your culinary photography on Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare.


3.  Blood Sugar Tracker  – Parents of diabetic children know exactly how important it is to monitor kids’ sugar intake in order to prevent dangerous surges and drops. With Blood Sugar Tracker, logging the results of blood tests and tracking them over the course of days, weeks, and even months is incredibly simple. The app isn’t at all complicated to use, and is free in the App Store.


4.  Serious Nutritional Tracker – Keeping track of your child’s calorie intake, estimated energy, protein, and fluid requirements, as well as intake levels of individual nutrients, is all possible with the Serious Nutrition Tracker. Because the app is designed for bodybuilders and other fitness buffs, there are features here that parents aren’t likely to need, but the $2.99 price tag makes the app well worth the purchase, as it does allow you to track your child’s dietary habits over an extended period of time.


5.  Fooducate – Healthy Food Diet & Nutrition Scanner – Taking first place in the U.S. Surgeon General’s Healthy App Challenge and being featured by a list that reads like a who’s who of major news outlets, Fooducate lets parents know exactly what the processed foods they purchase for their children contain. With a scan of the bar code you can determine exactly how healthy your grocery list actually is and modify it as needed to ensure that your little ones aren’t eating foods laden with trans fats, dangerous chemical additives, and loads of sugar.


6.  Eight Glasses a Day – Staying well hydrated is an essential part of human health, but keeping up with the amount of water your child drinks can be difficult. Eight Glasses a Day greatly simplifies the process of monitoring water intake by allowing you to simply touch a glass on the screen to make it disappear every time your little one finishes a glass.


7.  Restaurant Nutrition – Keeping track of what your child is eating when you visit a restaurant isn’t easy, and some restaurants use deliberately misleading wording on their menus to create the illusion of healthy, nutritious entrees when they’re really anything but that. With over 250 restaurants in their database, Restaurant Nutrition helps you track the foods your child is eating on the go. Best of all, Restaurant Nutrition is free in the App Store.


8.  Food Tracker Pro – Tracking your child’s dietary choices without counting calories or keeping tedious lists is easy with FoodTrackerPro, which allows you to help her make good decisions about her diet and keep up with what she’s eating. The simple interface is easy to use, and the app allows you to look at weekly, monthly, and yearly charts.


9.  EatRight – Keep up with your child’s diet in relation to the major food groups, fluid intake, and sweets/fats with EatRight, a $1.99 app with a 7 day log and daily tracker. The optional progress sharing feature is also great for nannies, who can send charges’ dietary information to busy parents to keep them in the loop.


10.  5 A Day – Getting five servings of fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet is easier than you think, especially when you have this $0.99 app to help. A collection of recipes that are heavy on fresh fare, 5 A Day helps users meet their daily produce quota.



Determining what foods are suitable for your child and how well her dietary needs are being met through the power of the iPhone and the App Store can help to ensure that she learns good eating habits and the importance of good nutrition from an early age. Remember, kids learn most of their habits by modeling the adults in their lives, so making an effort to eat well yourself is another teaching tool at your disposal.

Au Pair


The new caregiving links below can help you find support, order orthotics or wheelchairs, or share insights about cancer or aging:



Friday – Saturday     10pm – 1am

Sunday                     8pm – 11pm

LIVE 24/7 as of October 19, 2012!


Leave the Light On  – a place for caregivers to talk about their challenges

BarterQuest  – trade goods, services, real estate

eNanny Source  – find nannies

Top 10 Resource Books for Nannies  – career guides, information for nannies written by nannies & experts

Health Appliance  – wheelchairs, mobility & exercise equipment for sale

Optec USA  – orthotic fabrication & patient support

Dancing Giraffe  –  information to inspire, support & challenge people with disabilities

Colma Cremation  –  cremation & funeral services; grief support

Care Giver Project   – awareness of aging, family and caregiver issues

Dr. Amy Caregiver Wellness   – information, support, services for caregiving

What Next  – first-hand accounts of cancer patients, survivors, caregivers so you know what to expect

Family Link  –  communication & monitoring system for seniors

Get Old  – share how you feel about getting old, read how others feel

Caregiver Respite Locator   – search for caregiver respite in your area

Eldercare Locator Caregiver Resources   – Caregiver respite, resources, support groups, counseling, services in your area


Providing loving, efficient care for our aging parents can prove to be a more involved task than originally imagined.  Quite simply, as we all get on in years, we may eventually need a little more help to do the things we do every day.

The article below, contributed by Insurance Quotes, gives us tips and a starting point to an open discussion of how to best care at home for our loved ones in a sensible, yet compassionate fashion.

Thank you to Insurance Quotes for this helpful article!



7 Tips for Caring For a Loved One at Home

Re-published with permission.


As your parents age, it is possible that despite any health issues, they will be able to remain in their home, so long as there is some kind of additional care in place for them. And it usually falls upon family members to provide that additional care. As the child or other relative of a family member who needs in-home health care, the prospect of providing what amounts to long-term care can seem overwhelming. Where do you even start? The following seven tips will help you and your family members formulate a plan for in-home care of a loved one. Note that if in-home health care is ordered by a doctor, Medicare and long-term care insurance can cover some of the costs. Visit Medicare’s website for more information.


  1. Talk to your loved one:

    This isn’t always the obvious first step when it comes to coordinating home care for a parent or other family member, but put yourself in their shoes, and you’ll probably agree that you would prefer to be talked to than talked about. A loved one may be concerned that they’ll become a burden to their family or that they’ll lose control of their day-to-day life. With this in mind, always encourage the person in need of care to voice their concerns; let them know they will be included in any decisions that need to be made regarding their home and health. Tips for this important family meeting are available on the website.


  2. Learn your loved one’s medical history:

    At this stage of your parent or loved one’s life, you may not be fully aware of his or her medical history and needs. Take time to speak to your loved one’s doctors so that you are fully aware of any existing medical conditions, recurring health issues, and prescribed medications. Know the side effects of any medications, and plan to address any sudden changes in your loved one’s condition that may result. And again, keep your loved one involved in these discussions, keeping an open mind, even if you both disagree with how to address a medical issue.


  3. Create a financial profile:

    Obtaining a loved one’s financial information may be awkward, but it’s crucial to have, especially as the loved one ages and their health needs continue to change. Have an up-to-date record of any income, including Social Security, pensions, and disbursements from investments. Create a “one sheet” that lists bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, credit cards, and any health and life insurance policies. You and your loved one may want to open up a joint checking account so that you can assist with bill payments.


  4. Consider outside help:

    One common mistake family members make when it comes to caring for a loved one is attempting to do everything by themselves. There’s only so much time in a day, and your schedule may not allow for the time needed to provide comprehensive, high-quality home care. To help with this, consider hiring a home health aide. Home health aides work for agencies that are regulated by state and federal laws, are generally supervised by a medical professional, and are paid through Medicare and Medicaid. Other options, depending upon the needs of your loved one, include in-home therapists, or a neighbor who can assist with simple domestic tasks.


  5. Install handrails and safety rails:

    Here’s a task that’s a bit easier than gathering medical and financial information. Install handrails along stairs and in bathrooms and safety rails in showers and tubs. As a person ages, day-to-day tasks can become physically challenging, and rails prevent accidents that may result. Consider other simple additions to your loved ones home that can help ensure their safety, such as bright lighting in hallways and basements and smoke and CO2 detectors installed throughout the home.


  6. Install phones with large number pads and digital clocks:

    Large number pads on phones, the television remote control, and thermostat are helpful to a loved one whose vision may be impaired or simply not as strong as it once was. Digital clocks, especially those with larger LED displays, are also helpful, since traditional three-hand clocks might become confusing to read over time.


  7. Plan a menu and schedule exercise:

    As your loved one ages, they may express less interest in eating. Medication and poor oral hygiene may be to blame, along with fatigue. Consider collaborating on the creation of a weekly menu that is well-balanced and includes food from all five food groups. If your loved one is recovering from a medical procedure or operation, consult with a doctor or nutritionist to determine which foods in what quantities are most helpful for a speedy recovery. In addition to maintaining a good diet, make sure your loved one is getting some kind of physical exercise.


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If you are caregiving at home for a senior loved one, you want to take every precaution to ensure his or her safety and well-being.  Below are some tips to help caregivers achieve this … and a little peace of mind!

Thank you to Roland Stautzenberger from DependOne, which provides an in-home personal emergency response system, for contributing this post!



Help Your Senior Loved One Live Safe, Healthy, & Longer!


If you are someone who takes care of an elderly person, whether it is full time or part time, you of course want to help them enjoy life to the fullest while making sure that they stay as safe as possible. A long-term care situation is something that can be challenging, so make sure that you consider some important tips to ensure that the person you are caring for lives a rich and healthy life.

Safety First!
Make sure that the home where your elderly person lives is well-equipped for people who might be more fragile or inclined towards mobility issues. For example, you should ensure that there are plenty of grab bars in the bathroom. A grab bar is a horizontal or vertical bar that is set into the wall, and they give someone who is slipping a way to steady themselves. Many elderly people want to maintain their sense of independence, and grab bars and no-slip strips allow them to do so safely. Similarly, handrails on stairs of any sort can also help. Another increasingly
common safety measure is using a senior medical alert system. These devices help monitor the person you are caring for 24/7 and will connect them to a live monitoring center if they ever needed any sort of assistance. Keep floors clear of clutter as to avoid tripping and falling over things on the ground that are hard to see. Carefully assist in the administration of daily medications. Taking meds may feel like a menial or a mundane task but it is NOT. It is very important that you help your elderly person take the right amount of the correct medication at the exact designated time each day.

Consult a Nutritionist
It comes as no surprise that people change as they age, but while outward changes are easy to see, ones inside are less easy to detect. Consult with a nutritionist to see what your elderly person should be eating and to find out what kind of nutrients they need to stay healthy. It is important to remember that the habits of a lifetime cannot and likely should not change overnight. Speak with the nutritionist, and consider what meals are best. Then talk with the person you are caring for to decide upon a favorable diet plan. Discuss menus and what they want, and make sure that you come to an agreement that is both healthy and satisfactory.

Consider Therapy Animals
Therapy animals are typically cats and dogs, though birds, small rodents and rabbits may also be used for this purpose. Therapy animals interact with people who may be going through rough transitions and who might be feeling nervous or upset about their situation. The elderly person in your care may appreciate the chance to talk with or to touch an animal that will never judge them or reject them. Make contact with therapy animal providers in your local area to learn more about this type of program.

Get Out
Immobility is a serious problem for elderly people. Maintaining mobility is an extremely important part of staying healthy as we age, so look for reasons to get your parent or loved one up from the couch. For example, is there an outdoor hobby they enjoy, or do they have friends that they love to visit? A small amount of activity on a daily or even a weekly basis can make a huge difference to the person’s mental outlook. Simply making the transition from one place to another can have enormous benefits. If the elderly person in question is civic-minded, look around for volunteer activities that they will enjoy. For example, if the person in question is patient and enjoys children, consider taking them to a place where children with reading issues can practice with them.

After caregiving for an extended period of time, many caregivers cut back on conversations with the person they care for. Partly due to stress, fatigue or lack of time, these talks can practically stop. Children or loved ones of an elderly person may not have this problem as often but it still can happen depending on the situation. Things become a matter of routine, and before anyone knows what has happened, the situation can go wrong in monumental ways. Keep the lines of communication open, and consider making sure that you always touch base at various times through the week.

Taking care of another person is not a simple task. There will be challenges along the way so make sure you are utilizing helpful resources that are available to caregivers such as yourself. Caring for an elderly person can be rewarding and challenging at the same time, so make every effort you can to keep them safe, healthy, and happy.



Roland Stautzenberger -

Roland Stautzenberger







Personal Bio

Roland is the Social Media Manager at DependOne, a leading provider in the Medical Alert Alarm industry.



The Interagency Council on Aging presented an informative talk in Austin, Texas, last week on substance abuse among seniors.  The presenters discussed several ways for families and caregivers to recognize and to address this seldom-discussed topic, which needs our attention early, before it creates serious problems.

The event was sponsored by A.G.E. of Austin and by Nurses Unlimited, two agencies that provide resources and care for seniors.


“Geriatric Substance Use: Issues and Answers”


J. Scott Hensley, Ph.D. – Odyssey Hospice

Kevin A. O’Hara, M.S. – E3 Prevention Education



Mary O’Hara, R.R.T. – Odyssey Hospice


J. Scott Hensley, Ph.D. talked about the challenges of dealing with addictive behaviors in the elderly.  Our view of substance abuse, which is something that we generally attribute to younger groups, makes it difficult to accept this as an activity practiced among seniors.  We simply don’t expect seniors to be partaking in drug or alcohol abuse!  Because of this misconception, or perhaps naivete, we don’t even consider abuse when our elder loved ones begin to exhibit unusual symptoms or behaviors.


Challenges of Addictive Behaviors in the Elderly:

  • No one wants to confront grandmother!  We may think it funny or cute to see one of our elder relatives having yet another drink.  We may think that no harm could come from grandfather’s little tipsy escapade.  After all, we may surmise, they’ve lived their long life and are entitled to a little fun now and again.
  • Inability to do things as before, which can lead to frustration, and isolation, which can lead to loneliness, can provide the ideal scenario to encourage substance abuse for some seniors.
  • Some medical professionals may not acknowledge problem with abuse, letting it go untreated.
  • Sometimes, seniors feel much better when medication taken for a particular ailment takes away other aches and pains; they want to continue feeling better after their episode ends; sometimes, they seek more medication from their doctor, or elsewhere when their doctor will no longer prescribe it.
  • Medications stay in senior’s body longer than in younger people.
  • Drugs and alcohol are harder on seniors due to their slower metabolism.
  • Often, seniors don’t know where to go to get support – support groups for substance abuse are generally attended by younger people.  The senior & the younger participants cannot relate to each other’s situation, so little support is derived by the seniors.
  • Self-medication can be practiced by some seniors, which may not always be good for them.  Labels are often hard to read due to their very small text or as a result of poor vision.
  • Abuse is hard to pinpoint because some of its symptoms are shared with other conditions, such as dementia, depression or grief: forgetfulness, loss of balance, poor sleep, etc.


What you can do to help a senior avoid substance abuse:

  • provide emotional support
  • provide stress relief: go out, exercise, talk, be sure senior is eating properly
  • inventory medications: prescription and over-the-counter
  • socialize, go out to see people
  • help your loved one find a reason to live again, to get up in the morning


In addition, Dr. Hensley pointed out that seniors should not try any detoxification on their own.  Because their body processes things differently from younger adults, if done at all, it must be done only under a doctor’s supervision.



Kevin A. O’Hara, M.S., discussed signs and prevention of possible substance abuse, medication misuse, senior substance use issues, tips for safe use of prescription medication, and over-the-counter medications – use with caution.  These topics are discussed in his presentations via E3 Prevention Education.

Mr. O’Hara did mention that while only about 20% of seniors are believed to abuse medications or alcohol, it behooves the elderly relative and the family to watch for out-of-the-ordinary signs.  Creating a caring support system and discussing 1-2 points at a time on how to live a healthier lifestyle may encourage seniors to avoid feeling like they need “something else” to make them feel better.

In the meantime, he recommended writing to our government representatives to ask for programs to both address and to treat senior substance abuse.



If you would like to attend seminars or classes for seniors or caregivers, please see below.


A Matter of Balance – manage falls, increase activity levels

Caregiver U

For information, please contact:

Faith Unger  512-451-4611  x244

funger (at)

Classes forming for June, July 2012 – Austin & San Marcos



A.G.E. of Central Texas

Odyssey Hospice

E3 Prevention Education

Caregiver U


Long-distance caregiving for my mother began about 23 years ago with a simple phone call.  While my 1-year-old cherub took his mid-morning nap, I decided to call my healthy and newly-retired mom to say hello while I took a respite from playing or building or reading The Berenstein Bears.  Knowing how she begrudgingly got up early and dressed every morning of her working life, which spanned almost 4 decades, I wondered if she would sleep in now that she could.

“Wake up call,” I teased her at 9:30 am.

She actually answered the phone and was having her breakfast!  Impressive feat coming from my mother, as she is definitely not a morning person and had in the past TOLD her bosses that she WOULD NOT come to work before 9am!

That phone call started a daily routine for me and became a running joke between us that continues still today. After my sweet father’s passing 4 years ago, the day which saw practically all of her joy of living leave with him when they closed his casket and drove him away, that phone call was one of the few reluctant contacts with people.  Not because she didn’t want to speak to friends or to family; but because the deep black lonely void consumed her.  I was glad to have started on a whim a simple gesture that eventually became somewhat of a lifeline.

My brother and sister jumped right in to do the same while our mother remains healthy: checking on her almost daily by phone, bringing her anything she needed weekly – be it groceries, stamps or wine [to this day, she must have 1 glass of wine with dinner or it’s not dinner! Doctor-approved!]  They live 1 hour and 40 minutes from her, respectively, and I live 2000 miles away, so we each do what we can when we can.  However, all of us are ready to drop what we’re doing to get her what she needs if it’s truly important. We are ready to do the same when the day comes that she can no longer care for herself. This, we do out of love and respect for her, because we are her adult children.  The caregiving role is a natural extension of being family: it’s what our family does.

We based helping our mother on our abilities, time and distance.  Tasks have fallen into place without discord or overlap because we have focused on getting them done – it’s never been about what we want or like, it’s been about helping our mother.

Below, I have listed caregiving tasks that can be done if you live nearby, about 1-2 hours away, and farther away from your loved one.  You’d be surprised by how much can be accomplished from far away when you, family or friends work together!



Caregiving if you live in town:

  • call daily or every few days
  • buy groceries when you buy your own
  • visit & talk about pleasant things, memories
  • play games or focus on loved one’s interests
  • go out: parks, museums, shops, errands, visit friends, movies, concerts, House of Worship…
  • projects around the house: decorating, crafts…
  • unclutter: throw away junk mail, recycle newspapers & magazines, sort clothes, unused items
  • change lightbulbs, check for repairs
  • check safety issues
  • yard work, trim trees & bushes
  • cook for the week & pack in individual portions; freeze
  • bring friends to visit
  • join clubs or organizations for fun, socializing
  • join organizations to do community service
  • get some exercise (doctor-approved): walk, move
  • use social media to stay in touch: facebook, email
  • set up Skype to see each other
  • set up online banking to pay bills
  • deal with bank, safe deposit box
  • register Will at Court
  • go to loved one’s doctor’s appointments



Caregiving if you live 1-2 hours away:

  • call daily or every few days
  • write notes, cards, email, facebook
  • offer to bring groceries or supplies when in the area
  • offer to take loved one to doctor’s appointments when possible
  • visit monthly or when possible
  • make phone calls to organize help: yard work, housekeeping services, repairs
  • invite loved one to your home for a weekend or week
  • make phone calls regarding health, car or home insurance issues, make appointments with doctors, salon
  • set up online banking to pay bills



Caregiving long-distance if you live far away:

  • call daily or every few days
  • set up Skype to talk
  • add a cell phone for loved one’s use on your plan
  • use social media to stay in touch: facebook, email
  • make phone calls: insurance issues & coverage, coordinate house repairs, find transportation, find homecare help, find housekeeping help
  • shop online for needed items and have them delivered to loved one’s home
  • shop online for special occasions, holidays, birthdays
  • set up online banking to pay bills
  • do taxes online
  • invite loved one to come stay with you for a couple of weeks or longer
  • the sky’s the limit: just put on your thinking cap to come up with more ways to help remotely!


Find more information, resources and ideas at the websites below:


Long-distance caregiving

So Far Away: Twenty Questions and Answers about Long-distance Caregiving

Caregiving: Tips for long-distance caregivers

Being a long-distance caregiver