Top Gadgets For Seniors

Nell Bernstein (senior editor) over at Caring.com wrote up an informative post on aging in place gadgets.  Many of these gadgets have been highlighted here on The Senior List, but we wanted to share Nell’s list with our readers too. The Center for Disease Control defines aging in place as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level”.  Many of the gadgets listed below can help aging Americans stay in their home longer, and in a safer environment.

Most adults would prefer to age in place—that is, remain in their home of choice as long as possible. In fact, 90 percent of adults over the age of 65 report that they would prefer to stay in their current residence as they age. One-third of American households are home to one or more residents 60 years of age or older. – Wikipedia on aging in place

Top Gadgets For Seniors

Here are several of our favorite gadgets that can contribute to a safer home environment for your friends or family members:

1.  Big Button Cell PhoneJitterbug 5 Review

Big button cell phones (yup some folks call them dumb phones) have a place in the mobile phone world, especially for aging adults.  When people age their eyes can (and usually do) get worse over time.  This is due to a variety of medical issues like glaucoma, cataracts or (age related) macular degeneration.  Yes, smartphones are all the rage these days, but cell phones like the Jitterbug 5 from Samsung can serve many purposes, including acting as a medical alert system.

2.  House Cleaning Robots

gadgets for seniorsActually we care do differ from Nell a little bit on this one.  Having a fun little “robot” vacuum cleaner like the iRobot Roomba are very cool devices, and we like them a lot.  But let’s face it, vacuum cleaners aren’t all that complex, or difficult to operate (at least not all of them yet).  The key to keeping a clean home, free of dust and/or dander is regular cleaning.  So having an easy-to-use vacuum of any kind is useful.  It should be light, and located in an accessible location.  Also, it might be a good idea to have a cleaning service come in once a month for a deep clean (if one can be afforded).

3.  Automatic Pill Reminders

Medication management systems are a great idea. As people age, they typically end up on a variety of medications like cholesterol lowering agents, high blood pressure meds, and more!  The fact that these medications must be managed for many aging adults accounts for a huge percent of nursing home admissions.  Medication management systems range from simple plastic pill boxes all the way up to smart (electronic) medication management systems that remind users when to take their meds.

4.  Medical Alert Systems

Top Gadgets for SeniorsMedical alert systems are something we know a great deal about.  These handy devices come in all shapes and sizes, but the most common is a pendant style alert system.  These have a single push button that alerts a call center when a person feels like they’re having a medical emergency (or any emergency for that matter).  Some of these devices also come packed with automatic fall detection which senses when an aging adult has fallen down.  If they’re unresponsive the medical alert system will notify the call center automatically.  Medical alert systems with fall detection usually cost a bit more, but they can be worth it in certain situations.  If you need help picking out the right medical alert system, we’ve created a handy medical alert system buyers guide to help navigate you through the many choices offered today.

There a number of other handy gadgets for seniors that can help one stay in the home longer, and be safer as well.  Head on over to Nell’s article for the full list.  Do you have any additions that you’d add to our list?  Any suggestions that you’ve implemented in a home?  We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

New Study: Americans Anxious About Retirement

Anxious About RetirementA new study by the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) notes that Americans could be on the verge of another financial threat.  That threat is the lack of income to be able to sustain an independent lifestyle as they move out of the workforce and into retirement.  This is a relatively new phenomenon with massive economic implications down the road.

Life used to be a little easier for retirees. In the past retirees could count on 3 main sources of retirement income; Social Security, Pension Plans and 401K’s.  Today many companies have chosen to forgo a pension plan offering, leaving saving for retirement up to the individual worker(s).

In recent years, however, this retirement infrastructure has degraded dramatically. A large portion of the workforce lacks access to or is not participating in retirement plans, making future retirement security prospects—especially for middle class employees—challenging at best. – Diane Oakley & Kelly Kenneally (NIRS)

Anxious About Retirement

CBS News reports that “medical expenses are a major and realistic worry, with Fidelity estimating a couple who retired in 2014 needing an estimated $220,000 to cover future medical costs.”  It doesn’t take long for a savings account to dwindle down to nothing when dealing with Alzheimer’s or Dementia related issues, or when faced with Nursing Home costs.  These issues and more are further causing Americans to be anxious about retirement.

The NIRS study confirmed that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe there is a “retirement crisis”, and that 3 out of 4 Americans are highly anxious about their retirement prognosis. Further, many Americans see retirement benefits “almost as important” as a salary! It’s clear that we need to continue to protect the retirement programs we do have, while creating easier access to retirement plans for those that don’t have access at work. An estimated 10,000 baby boomers per day are leaving the workforce and entering into retirement.

Americans continue to feel that policymakers need to do more, and are quite supportive of state initiatives to shore up retirement savings. As the policy debate continues, we hope that these research findings help inform deliberations and serve as a valuable tool for government officials, experts and the general public. – Diane Oakley and Kelly Kenneally (NIRS, March 2015)

photo credit: Flickr/401(K) 2012

Need to start saving right away? Here’s our BIG LIST of Senior Discounts for 2015.  Feel free to pass it along to your friends!

Tips For Those Considering Retiring Overseas

Retiring Overseas - Expert Tips

Ever thought about retiring overseas? If you answered yes, you need to read this great article by Kathleen Peddicord (of Live and Invest Overseas fame). In Kathleen’s HuffPost write-up, David and Cathy Thompkins tell their story of how a rock-solid western US couple moved from Northern Idaho to Cayo, Belize just a year ago.

Retiring Abroad

Retire Overseas

If you’re going to consider retirement overseas, you should probably make a few test runs first.  Spend some extended-time in the locations you’re considering.  This is a good rule-of-thumb even if you’re considering a domestic move right here in the good ole USA.  Just a few of the big challenges that David and Cathy faced included; What to do with all their stuff back home, where to find food, and how to build new relationships.

As you can imagine, the people in Belize are great – and things seem to be working out swimmingly (pun intended) for the Tompkins’.  If you’re looking to retire in Belize, or anywhere else for that matter – Do your homework. Click here for a direct link to the article or find it on our Facebook page where you’ll find all kinds of great boomer/senior related resources.

Alzheimer’s Patient Shops For Flowers In Act Of True Love

alzheimers patients and wanderingMight as well grab a tissue now… Yes, before reading this post or watching this video.  If you know anything about Alzheimer’s Disease, you probably know that people with dementia can get confused and wander at times.  Did you know that 6 in 10 people with dementia will wander?  It’s an incredible statistic and it can have very serious consequences.

The Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org) says that “A person with Alzheimer’s may not remember his or her name or address, and can become disoriented, even in familiar places. Wandering among people with dementia is dangerous, but there are strategies and services to help prevent it.” A few of those strategies include the assurance that all basic needs are met, using devices to signal when a door (or window) is opened, and keeping car keys out of sight.

True Love -“A Moment Of Clarity”

Back to that tissue advice.  Did you grab one?  OK good…  So imagine when Doris Amrine of Little Rock, Arkansas noticed that her husband Melvyn (a dementia sufferer) turned up missing.  Melvyn normally needs help walking around the block, so this was particularly concerning.  Melvyn had given flowers to his wife every Mother’s Day since the birth of their first child.  The day he went missing was the day before Mother’s Day.

Even though the mind doesn’t remember everything, the heart remembers. – Doris Amrine

When police finally found Melvyn, he was lost but he knew what he was doing.  Police reported, “It was absolutely a moment of clarity for him”.  He was trying to find flowers for his beloved wife.  With their help, he completed his mission proving that at times “Even though the mind doesn’t remember everything, the heart remembers.” Enjoy the video.

Better To Give Than To Receive

Leave a Legacy of Giving

“Being rich is not about how much you have, but how much you give.” That’s the lesson in an incredibly inspirational video commissioned by the fine folks at Community Chest, Singapore, a non-profit organization that channels resources to the social service sector in Singapore.  This short video is a testament to the age old adage; It’s better to give than to receive.

Being a mother, a father, or a mentor is about making sacrifices for our children… And the lessons we leave them become our legacy.  I hope this short film about a father and his son fills your heart with as much love and inspiration as it did mine!

Being rich is not about how much you have, but how much you give.

Old Paintbrushes Become Works Of Art

When speaking about Paintbrushes the Encyclopedia Brittanica (2008) notes that paintbrushes are a “device composed of natural or synthetic fibres set into a handle that is used for cleaning, grooming, polishing, writing, or painting. Brushes were used by man as early as the Paleolithic Period (began about 2,500,000 years ago) to apply pigment, as shown by the cave paintings of Altamira in Spain and the Perigord in France. In historical times the early Egyptians used brushes to create their elaborate tomb paintings, while the ancient Chinese employed the tip of a long-haired brush to make the many intricate characters of their writing, a practice continued in the Orient today.”

The Paint Brush Series - Works of Art

So what does one do with an old and discarded paleolithic pigment propagator?  Well if you’re Rebecca Szeto, you turn it into an exquisite piece of art!  That’s right, old and discarded paintbrushes can be turned into works of art IF you have an eye for the creative… and a desire to find “the poetic intersection of the material and the immaterial”.  If that sounds a little odd or even ironic, this is exactly what happens when San Francisco artist Rebecca Szeto gets her hand on old paint brushes.  What began as an afterthought, Ms. Szeto was looking for something to do with discarded paintbrushes left over from her faux finishing jobs.  What she came up with is truly inspiring!

The Paint Brush Series - Works of Art

“These works play with notions of re-forming beauty and value. I use humble, end-of-life, mass-produced materials inspired by my experience as a faux finisher. The paintbrush is self-referential, acting as both subject and object. It refers to the history of painting, through the medium of paint, with its own tool.” –Rebecca Szeto

The Paint Brush Series - works of art

Old Paint Brushes Are Works of Art

(Click to View)

Medical Alert Systems: Everything You Need To Know

qmedic medical alert system braceletWe’re asked all the time to make recommendations on medical alert systems, and to provide best practices on what to look out for when shopping for one of these little devices. The best advice is not to rush into this purchase decision without doing a little due diligence. There are some nafarious providers out there, hoping you’ll sign a long-term contract that you can’t get out of… We’ve even heard from consumers that have been stuck in a bad contract for (dare we say) 3 years!

So you can probably tell that one of the things we hate are long-term agreements with no out-clauses. There are other things to watch out for as well, so let’s get into the heart of the matter! First things first… Don’t start looking at medical alert systems without knowing the Top 10 Questions to Ask When Buying a Medical Alert System.

Top Questions to Ask When Buying a Medical Alert System

  1. Does this medical alert system work with VOIP phones?
  2. What is the range of the pendant from the base unit?
  3. Who installs and tests the device in my home?
  4. Do I need a land-line in my home to use this alert system?
  5. Tell me about your call centers. Where are they located? What are response times? Are they trained?
  6. Does the medical alert system come with other services like medication reminders?
  7. What if something goes wrong with my equipment?
  8. Is automatic fall detection included?
  9. Do I own this device, or am I leasing the equipment?
  10. What is my total yearly cost?
  11. (Bonus Question) What do I do when I no longer need the service? (Get this in writing.)

Medical Alert Buyers Guide5 Features of Modern Medical Alert Systems

  1. The pendant should be small, discrete and waterproof.
  2. The contract should be easy to opt out of.
  3. Pendant should be comfortable and lightweight.
  4. The fall detection technology should work well.
  5. Should have connectivity options to call your family, a call center, or 911.

Medical Alert System SCAM

Did you know there is a medical alert scam that is being perpetrated on the American public right now?  These frauds are targeting seniors with an offer of a personal medical alert system at no cost to you. The call goes on to say “Since you’ve already been referred by a medical professional, your package is ready to be shipped”. State and federal authorities are aware of the scam which has been going on for over a year now.  What you can do:  Make your friends and family aware of the scam, and make sure they never give personal information to anyone that calls them out of the blue (ever)!

Cellular Medical Alert System

Common Mistakes to Avoid

5 Common Mistakes: Medical Alert Systems

Medical Alert System Buyers Guide

If you want more help or more information, poke around The Senior List a little bit.  You can use our search bar on the front page to help guide your search for medical alert system information.  We’ve conducted many reviews of specific devices, and browsing these reviews is a great way to educate yourself on the medical alert space.  If you would like specific recommendations on medical alert systems, we have a Medical Alert System Buyers Guide that can walk you through some of our favorite medical alert system choices.  These are alert systems that we recommend to friends and family, and they meet many of the criteria that we look for in a medical alert system provider.

medical alert system buyers guide

Last Minute Christmas Card Deals

Christmas Card Deals From Tiny Prints

Calling all last minute shoppers who haven’t ordered your holiday cards yet! Tiny Prints has your back.

First, their sitewide sale of up to 30% off ends Tuesday, 12/16 at midnight PT. Second, if you Tiny Prints Christmas Cardorder before midnight PT on 12/17, you can save $10 on their super rush shipping. And yes, you can stack those codes!

Here’s how it works:

1. Go to Tiny Prints and choose from their selection of holiday cards. Personalize the cards with your pictures and text.

2. Use the code 30SWDEAL to save 25% on all orders and 30% on orders of $99+.

3. Stack the code SRSAVE10 if your order is more than $100 and you’ll save $10 on their super rush shipping. You’ll get the cards within two business days (if you are in the lower 48 states).

Celebrate the holidays with customized Christmas cards from Tiny Prints!

This post is a really great deal we’re passing along to our community members, and it may contain affiliate links. We only consider affiliate relationships on products that we would absolutely recommend to friends and family.

Top 10 Inspirational Photos From Last Week

We searched the web high and low to come up with the top 10 inspirational photos from the web last week.  Origins are unknown, but we thought sharing these would put a smile on your face and bring inspiration to your day!

We routinely post inspiring images and thoughts-of-the-day on our Facebook page, along with articles that are pertinent to the lives of boomers and seniors everywhere.  Be sure and join our robust community on Facebook so we can share with one another on a personal level.  If you’re on twitter, you can follow us there too at @SeniorList.  Enjoy!

Top 10 Inspirational Photos

Top 10 Inspirational Photos

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Top 10 Inspirational Photos

Top 10 Inspiring Photos

Top 10 Inspirational photos

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Top 10 inspirational photos

Top 10 inspirational photos

Top 10 Inspirational Images

top 10 inspirational images

If you have words of wisdom, or sources of inspiration to share with The Senior List community we invite you to do so in the comments section below.  We love hearing from you!

Is The Apple Watch Ready For Prime Time?

Apple Watch vs Google GlassWe had a great question from one of our community members that spurred some additional dialog about the the future of medical alert systems, and whether the Apple Watch might be in that future.

Susan asks resident tech expert TimOnTech: I was thinking along the same lines, Tim, but you expressed it much better than I….I don’t even know what an accelerormeter is. I used to joke if Tiffany made an alert pendant necklace, older women would love wearing it. The Apple watch looks cool.

I was thinking it probably also has a gps built in. (Do you know?) If so, help could be on the way very quickly even if the person couldn’t speak.

Thanks for the information and forward-thinking. possibilities.

Why is the Apple Watch receiving criticism in it’s first week of existence?

Unfortunately the Apple Watch needs some time to grow. Here are a list of why we don’t think its ready for seniors (or most consumers for that matter).

1. It’s not waterproof (no not even the sports edition). It is not even recommended to be worn in the shower.  This (to me) translates into “this Apple Watch isn’t even water resistant yet”.  This is a deal breaker for most of the sports nuts out there that expect to wear their watch wherever they go (including the pool).

2. It’s tethered to the iPhone. Hopefully it will have it’s own communication ability down the road so you don’t have to take your phone with you all the time. So now you have 2 devices that do largely the same thing.  One small… The other one SUPER SMALL.  As soon as we can take one or the other (or both) at our discretion, Apple will have a complete game changer.  For now it’s just a game changer. (Which isn’t so bad is it?)

3. Battery life of the Apple Watch is being called into question. They say you get a day’s worth of charge, but I suppose that the real numbers will become evident when they start shipping the Apple Watch (next year some time).  Again, let’s get to the point where we only need to plug these wearable gadgets in a couple times a week.  I know the brilliant engineers out there can do this!

4. The watch face is awfully small. Now my eyes are pretty good, but I don’t like reading on my iPhone 5S let alone a tiny watch… My iPad is about as small as I like to read on… So for the most rudimentary of tasks (like depressing an emergency call button) this might be just fine.  Replying to a text with a smiley face?  Probably fine too… but doing much more on the watch itself is going to be a struggle for most aging adults.

To read Susan’s original question and comment string click here on our article entitled; “The Next Best Medical Alert System”

Apple Watch

Apple Watch like Google Glass nice to have… Not need to have (yet)

So in summary, for now it’s probably a nice to have… Down the road (a couple years down the road) it may turn into a need to have. One nice wearable comparable is the Google Glass product. Even thought it’s not widely available, it’s been met with only mild enthusiasm. It’s a nice wearable comparable because it’s also an extension of one’s cell phone except plastered to ones face.

What’s your take on these exciting new wearable devices? Are they ready for prime-time? Are they following the typical evolutionary path to legendary gadget status?  Let us know your thoughts below!