Convenient Technology for Aging in Place

gadgets for seniorsOlder adults are fiercely embracing the concept of “aging in place,” where seniors can stay in their own homes, or perhaps downsize to a smaller home while staying independent and out of an institutional care setting (as home-like as they may be). According to a 2011 study from the AARP Public Policy Institute, a staggering number of close to 90 percent of seniors wish to age in place.

There are a multitude of ways to make it easier for an older adult to age in place. There are the tried and true solutions of adding staircase chair lifts, raised toilet seats, walk-in tubs, and emergency pull cords in bathrooms. There are also other technological ways to help older adults if they don’t want to leave their beloved homes. It can be a perfect time to introduce seniors to new technology to keep connected with family, old friends, ex-coworkers, and even people they served in the military with.

Aging in Place with Tech

EMERGENCIES – This is a hot button issue with the senior community, and that’s no pun intended. Keeping emergency contact info in one’s wallet and having a medical alert bracelet are both still great ways to keep safe if an accident happens. New technology is also helping to save seniors’ lives.

Looking into a device like GreatCall is terrific for those on the go. It can be carried around and can even have a wristband added to it for an added sense of security. The device, which costs $50 with an additional $20 a month for service, is water proof and will work anywhere you take it, much like a cell phone. The object is light, looks cool, and works with the single push of a button to contact emergency services.

In the worst case scenario, a smart phone will be good in any emergency situation. Even on a password locked iPhone, you can teach a loved one to swipe right and click the “Emergency” button on the bottom left side of the screen. For an Android phone, there is also an “Emergency Call” button at the bottom of the screen, even if the phone is password-locked.

STAYING IN TOUCH – Smart phones have become a great tool for older adults, as there are no buttons to physically push down on, they have voice-activated digital assistants (Siri and Cortana), and screens are getting bigger. With additional devices like the Apple Watch and Android Watches, it’s easy to keep your daily reminders right at your wrist. With these futuristic accessories, you can schedule notices for the day, use a stop watch to time what you are cooking or when laundry is done, message your family, plus listen to music or the radio from it.

For those who don’t want to invest in yet another gadget, there are apps that can be added to existing devices seniors own that will keep them connected to others. Getting seniors on smart phones and giving them access to apps like FaceTime or Skype will allow them to have face-to-face conversations with family.  The smart phones will also be able to do all of the aforementioned features the smart watches can do.

KEYS – There are many tracking devices as small as a keychain which can be attached to the senior’s keys to find them is they become lost. Attaching these devices to keys, plus pet collars, purses, jewelry, and the keychains of family members, will help put more minds at ease.

As an example, Kwikset can outfit seniors with Remote Access Capability! The user is be provided an app where they will be able to lock and unlock their door remotely from a smart phone. There is also a notification sent to the senior homeowner when their lock is accessed taking security and peace of mind to another level.

GROCERIES & FOOD – If you or a loved one can’t make it to the grocery store, or just plain don’t want to go, there are merchants who will deliver it to you! AmazonFresh, Walmart, PeaPod, FreshDirect, and Safeway deliver to most places in the country, and you’ll be able to check via zip code initially before placing an order to see if they service your area. They will deliver perishables, room temperature goods, and even fully prepared meals to your door.

For city dwellers, using GrubHub or Delivered Dish are terrific online food delivery sites for narrowing down what kind of food you want, who has the best deals, and the best ratings. Want egg rolls after nine at night? Go for it!

TRANSPORTATION – Lyft, Sidecar and Uber are terrific alternatives to taxis or waiting for public transit, especially when seniors likely have to walk a good distance just to get to a bus or train stop. For independent seniors who don’t mind hoofing it to public transit, but then need to get somewhere farther than the bus or train stops, companies like Car2Go and Zipcar continue to expand their car sharing programs nationally.

Amanda Rosenblatt is a writer for Federal Home Loan Centers, where they assist seniors with short sales or help them downsize to better homes. Visit their site or tweet them at @fedhomeloan to see what they can do for you.

What Are Walk-In Bathtubs?

With 80% of falls happening in the bathroom, it’s imperative for anyone at a risk for falls to examine the hazards in the home and the bathtub is one of them.  An alternative to traditional bathtubs are walk-in bathtubs.  Walk-in bathtubs are bathtubs that have doors on them.  They have doors that open up so the user doesn’t have to step over the leading edge of a traditional bathtub.  Walk-in bathtubs can be much safer alternatives for elderly and/or disabled individuals and can minimize the risk involved (in falling, etc.) for the less mobile among us.

Walk-In Bathtubs

walk-in bathtub

Walk-in bathtubs have heavy duty sealing (around the doors).  The seal prevents water from seeping out when the tub is full of water.  Walk-in tubs typically drain faster than traditional tubs too.  This ensures that users don’t have to sit around for long periods of time (waiting for the water to drain out).

How To Buy A Walk-In Bathtub

Because these tubs don’t come standard in a typical home, families will either reach out to a walk-in bathtub dealer (who can order the appropriate tub, and arrange for installation, etc.) or they will find a tub at Home Depot (or other big box stores) and hire someone separately to perform the installation.

Some walk-in bathtubs come with jets

Walk-in bathtubs can come with many features including jacuzzi style water jets.  Doors can open inside or outside, depending on the make and model of the tub, and they come in a variety of (stale) color combinations.  Newer walk-in tubs aren’t one-size-fits-all either.  They can come in small, medium or large sizes… and many different shapes!

The Down Side

There are other considerations to make when considering walk-in tubs.  First, you have to understand the overall experience of bathing in a walk-in tub.  It’s different than it is in a traditional bathtub.  For example, in a walk-in bathtub:

  • You must get in your tub, shut the door behind you, and then turn the water on so it slowly rises to the desired depth and temperature.
  • Getting out involves the same drill in reverse.  You have to wait for the tub to empty until you can get out of your walk-in tub.
    • Because many of these tubs have fast-draining systems, your plumbing may or may not be able to accommodate the faster draining systems.  You’ll want to find out before ordering.
  • A bare bones walk-in bathtub (without installation) is going to start at $2,000, and they go up from there.  The nicer models retail between $4,000 – $6,000.  Often times the bathroom will need a remodel to accommodate the new tub, and this could involve both an electrician and a plumber.  So price is definitely a consideration when considering a walk-in type bathtub.

The Bottom Line

There’s a big difference between stepping into a traditional bathtub vs. a walk-in bathtub, especially for the elderly and/or less mobile folks out there. Imagine stepping into the tub below, vs. some of the walk-in tubs illustrated above.  Cost should always be a consideration when making the decision to invest in a walk-in tub, but the safety of your loved one should be your primary consideration.

traditional bathtubs vs walk-in bathtubs

In the end, you must do a good bit of research to understand what makes the most sense in your specific situation. We’ll continue to write about these interesting products, in order to help you make the best choice you can make.  Until then… Happy Bathing!

Click here for tips on how to gently shower your aging parent.

If you have any tips about ordering or using a walk-in bathtub, please tell us your story in the comments below!

Some of the providers on our site have an affiliate relationship with The Senior List, and we’re proud of those relationships. We only work with providers that pass our own stringent criteria, and these are the same providers that we refer our friends and family to.

The Burgeoning Home Care Industry

frontThe burgeoning need for home care providers has many people in the senior care community considering the business opportunities available in this industry. This is good news for seniors and their families, because it means there will be more providers available as more people consider home care as a career.

Senior Planning Services, a , would like to talk about some of the key factors to this phenomenon:

Profitability Potential in Home Care

One reason the home care industry is expanding is directly linked to the low initial overhead combined with the high profits available. Clients provide much of the equipment they need for their care, although providers may use a few key pieces of equipment across multiple clients. According to the Labor Department, this results in an average of a 15 percent profit in the first year for new home care companies.

Changing Expectations

Another factor fueling the growth of the home care industry is the changing expectations of society when it comes to senior care. Many seniors are expecting to lead more active and fulfilling lives, which often translates to staying at home and aging in place. They want assistance for the tasks they have trouble with so they can continue to enjoy those that are still within their capabilities. This means they are willing to hire and bring in care assistants.

An Increasing Population

Currently, the largest generation is entering their senior years, at the same time the life expectancy is increasing. The Baby Boomers are experiencing a longer and healthier old age compared to the generations that came before them. This increased population has put home care professionals in high demand.

In-Home Care Improvements

Finally, you can’t overlook the improvements that have taken place in the home care industry over the last few years. Better employee training is the main reason for this. Not only are companies spending more time with their employees, more certificate programs are becoming available that increases the working knowledge of those looking to enter the field.

Are you considering in-home care for you or a loved one? If so, industry experts recommend keeping these things in mind as you look:

  • Does the care company perform background checks on all care providers?
  • What credentials do the providers carry?
  • What is the education and training level of the providers?
  • How is scheduling handled? Will you work with a dedicated caregiver?
  • What oversight practices are in place?

Conclusion:

Whether you are 65+ and are considering your senior living options or are a senior living provider, this is a grand time to be involved in this explosive industry. Expect dramatic changes to come!

The Complete Guide to Home Adjustments for Independent Living

the guide to living at home independentlyAs you begin to get older, you have to start thinking about how you will manage if it becomes harder for you to look after yourself. Naturally, most people want to stay as independent as they can for as long as they can. For some, it can make more sense to move into assisted living, or even into a care home. But living independently at home is possible for many. One of the biggest obstacles to independent living is the layout and structure of people’s houses. They’re often not designed for people who have problems with mobility, such as wheelchair users or people with arthritis.

Day-to-day tasks such as getting in the bath or shower, going up and down stairs or even going through doorways can become a struggle. But with the right modifications and tools in your home, independent living can become a reality. Instead of leaving your home to move somewhere designed with limited mobility in mind, stay in your home and make improvements. You can adjust everything from your bath to your armchairs. And with some other handy little tools and gadgets, you can do everything for yourself.

Photo by Gary Knight

Widening Doorways

One of the greatest barriers to staying in a home that isn’t set up for people with mobility issues is the amount of space to move around. When you start to slow down and need help getting around, you can find that your home doesn’t allow movement for more than a person on their own. If you need to use a walking frame, crutches or a wheelchair, doorframes and room layouts can turn out to be a bit of a tight squeeze. You might even be having trouble with spacial awareness and need a bit more room to move about. Wheelchairs can be especially difficult. Although they often fit through the door, there isn’t always enough room for your hands, which is a disaster if you prefer to push yourself. You don’t want to have to have someone help you every time you want to go through the door. What you can do is have your doorways widened. Although this sounds like a big task, it’s easy and quick.

Kitchen Remodeling

Accessibility is extremely important in the kitchen. When you’re working with hot pans and sharp knives, you don’t want to be struggling to reach the surfaces or move around. If you’re a wheelchair user, you can have countertops, and other surfaces lowered. Doing so makes it easy for you to prepare food, do the dishes and other kitchen tasks. Other barriers you could change or remove include having an island in the middle of the kitchen or a layout that’s too compact. Cooking is one of the main things a lot of people feel helps them to maintain their independence and dignity. It helps them feel that they can provide for themselves. To keep you cooking longer, look into adjustments you can make to your kitchen.

Stairlifts for Independent Living

Getting up the stairs can be a struggle for even the most spritely of people. Even in their younger days, a lot of people find themselves out of puff from just walking up and down the stairs a few times. Later, the climbing the stairs can begin to feel like climbing Mount Everest. One of the most popular pieces of home medical equipment is the stairlift. Installing a stairlift makes getting up and down the stairs as easy as pie. Take your freedom back by adding a stairlift to your home and making the stairs a delight and not a struggle. Just sit back and relax as the stairlift does its work.

accessible bathroom for independent living

 

Photo by Creative Bathroom Designs

Bathroom Remodeling

The bathroom might be the most important room when it comes to maintaining your independence and dignity. You want to be able to manage alone for as long as possible, and the best way to do that is to make your bathroom fit around you. There are lots of modifications you can do in your bathroom to make bathing, showering and using the toilet much easier. One of the simplest things to put in is grab rails. Whether you want to alter your bath, shower or toilet, putting handrails in will help you to feel more secure and stable when you’re using the bathroom. If you want to go further, you can change your bathroom suite itself. The risk of slipping in the bath or shower is one that worries a lot of people. But you can relieve your worry with a walk-in tub, a roll-in shower for wheelchair users or a tub-to-shower conversion.

Walk in tubs remove the need to try and climb in and out of the bath. You simply open the door, walk in and fill the tub (remembering to shut the door!) Most come with seats to lower yourself onto, which you can combine with a handrail. You can modify your shower by installing rails, as well as a seat. Often standing for prolonged amounts of time in the shower can be hard, but you don’t have to worry with a modified shower.

Handy Tools and Gadgets

As well as making big and small changes to your home, you can use all kinds of tools and gadgets to help you regain or maintain your freedom at home. From gardening tools to simple pick-up tools, there are lots of things that can help you do everyday tasks. Pick-up tools are great to help you grab things without bending down and you can get tools to help you with everything from turning keys to opening doors. If you have low vision or hearing, lots of aids can help you by providing speech options and sound amplifiers. And of course, there’s the fun things. You shouldn’t have to stop gardening, reading or exercising because you’re getting older. There are lots of tools to help you in the garden, lights and magnifiers to help you read and even devices to help you exercise gently.

Stay in control of your life by fitting your home around you, instead of moving somewhere new. You can keep your independence and your dignity, without having to sacrifice your home or privacy.

Medical Alert Scam Calls Recorded

After receiving several medical alert scam calls this week from fraudulent medical alert scam robo-callers, we decided to do some hunting around to capture audio from the call.  Perhaps this captured medical alert scam recording will help educate the public (including national/local agencies) to put an end to this madness.  These sickos are targeting seniors with an offer of a “personal medical alert system at no cost to you”.  The call goes on “Since you’ve already been referred by a medical professional, your package is ready to be shipped”.  The scam doesn’t end there… “By receiving the package today” the recording states, “you’re now eligible to receive $1000 dollars in grocery saving coupons that can be used for products you already buy and use”. This scam has been going on for over a year now.  Federal and state agencies need to get a better handle on these calls targeting aging adults, kids, and the unsuspecting public in general.  Our advice is to hang up immediately (do not press any key), note the number you received the call from, and notify the appropriate authorities.  Your notification should include the FCC complaint page, as well as the Do Not Call Registry.

Medical Alert Scam Call Recording

Ironically The Senior List received has received callsl from these medical alert fraudsters, the latest coming just this week.  The numbers that were captured through our caller ID was 212-660-5351 and the other number we captured was 516-435-7389.  The script went just as the recorded call noted, but one of the calls also added a 75% prescription discount card.  If you’re interested in what the FTC says about robo calls, see the video below. Have you received a robo call for a free medical alert system?  What did you do?  How do you feel about these kind of calls being directed into people’s homes?  Let us know in the comments section below.

Special thanks to John’s recorded SPAM calls for the original audio feed

Would You Like a Medical Alert Recommendation?

Medical Alert Buyers Guide

Best Places To Retire For Less

Best places to retire for less: Savannah GA

Best places to retire for less

If you’ve been following our posts recently you know we published a list of best beach towns to retire in America.  This list is admittedly biased to towns out west (hey we spend a lot of time out there), but each of these beach communities is wonderful in it’s own right.  The Motley Fool recently published a short-list of friendly boomer cities where retirees can live it up for less.  In their best places to retire for less, the Motley Fool included 3 sleepers… Savannah Georgia (love it), Tulsa Oklahoma (interesting choice), and Omaha Nebraska (this works).  I wouldn’t have thought about the latter 2, if not for some of the context provided.  In addition, I like the criteria used to make the recommendations.  Here’s what these fools (it’s Motley Fool for heavens sake) took into consideration when looking a the best places to retire for less.  We also threw in a few suggestions of our own.  If you’re looking for the best places to retire for less, you should consider the following criteria as you map out your own retirement plans.

When thinking about retirement cities, consider the following criteria

  • Cost of Living (including state income tax rate, sales tax rate, and cost of living compared to the average COL)
  • Cultural Amenities and Offerings (like museums, parks, theater, and public squares)
  • The Employment Rate (a nice barometer of economic stability)
  • Is there a University/College near by?
  • Are there senior care facilities, and/or home health agencies adequately serving the area?
  • Is it close enough to your kids, your grand kids, and/or your close friends?

For another great list of affordable retirement cities, check out the folks at Grandparents.com.  They also published a list of the “6 Most Affordable Places to Retire“.  Another nice resource to check out is Sperlings Best Places.  They provide demographic info for cities that you may be considering as a retirement destination.  If you have other criteria used in making a retirement living choice, let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you.

Photo: Wikipedia/Spyder_Monkey

Best Beach Towns In America For Retirement

Looking forward to retiring in the same community you slaved away in for 40+ years?  If not, you may be dreaming of life in a cozy beach community where the idea of fresh air, fresh fish, and fresh adventures await!  If that’s the case, here’s a list of the best beach towns in America for retirement.  Enjoy your golden active years near the many relaxing beach communities we have right here in our own backyard.

Best Beach Towns In America For Retirement

#1 Manzanita (Oregon)Best Beach Towns in America: Manzanita Beach

This sleepy little community boasts a wonderful mix of full timers and part time residents.  With 7 miles of sandy beaches, Manzanita offers lots of room to run, walk, surf, or chill out.  The Oregon Coast Visitors Association maintains that “Manzanita possesses the third most photographed scenery in Oregon”.  Add in a local golf course, and a few nice restaurants/pubs and now you’ve got a full plate!  Located just West of Portland (and south of Cannon Beach) Manzanita has less than 1,000 full-time residence and at the time of the 2010 census just 315 households.  If you’re looking for a simple living this qualifies as one of the best beach towns in America for retirement.  Median age in the city is 59.9 years young.  –photos courtesy of jamesonf via Flickr

Best Beach Towns in America: Manzanita Beach Walk

 #2 Santa Cruz (California)

Best Beach Towns in America: Santa Cruz CA

Santa Cruz is a throw back town.  Having just spent our spring break there this year, we loved every minute of this surfer’s paradise.  Looking for something a little laid back and dog friendly?  You just found it.  Add in a mix of fine dining, and local eateries (where the food is fresh and affordable), you won’t go home hungry.  2011 census pegged Santa Cruz at just over 60,000 residence with 32.1% of the population between the ages of 45 and older.  Median age in Santa Cruz is 29.9 (wikipedia).  Beach dwelling, wine tasting, museums, and a university add to the cultural appeal of Santa Cruz, and it’s a sure draw for those looking for an active retirement.  –photos courtesy of Thomas Hawk & Hudheer G via Flickr

Best Beach Towns in America: Beach at Santa Cruz CA

#3 Beaufort (South Carolina)

Best Beach Towns in America: Beaufort SC

Beaufort SC was named Coastal Living Magazine’s Happiest Seaside Town in 2013.  This alone should qualify it as one of the best beach towns in America for retirement!  Beaufort is located on Port Royal Island, in the heart of the Sea Islands.  Water, history and culture surround this area, and it’s about as friendly a town as you’ll ever come across.  “Chartered in 1711, it is the second-oldest city in South Carolina, behind Charleston. The city’s population was 12,361 in the 2010 census.  It is a primary city within the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort Metropolitan Statistical Area.” (Wikipedia)  As of the 2010 census there were just over 12,000 people residing in the city of Beaufort.  A full 30% of the people in Beaufort SC are over the age of 45.  –photos courtesy of scarter392 & Henry de Saussure Copeland via Flickr

Best Beach Towns in America: Beaufort SC

#4 Friday Harbor (San Juan Island WA)

Best Beach Towns in America: Friday Harbor WA

Friday Harbor is a gorgeous little island community available only by ferry service (or float plane).  With just over 2,000 residents, it’s not easy to get lost around Friday Harbor.  Census data notes that 44.8% of the city is 45 years old or older.  Lots of things to do on San Juan Island including hiking, biking, fishing, walking, kayaking and sampling the many local eateries and coffee shops around town.  Summertime brings in quite a number of tourists, but everyone is interested in fresh air and the active outdoor culture that abounds here.  –photos courtesy of Chase N. & Mike Kelley via Flickr

Best Beach Towns in America: Friday Harbor ferry

#5 Steilacoom (Washington)

Best Beach Towns in America: Steilacoom WA Sunset

Located 45 miles SW of Seattle, Steilacoom (pronounced “still-a-come”)seems to move in slow motion and that’s just how the 6,000 or so full-time locals love it.  The 4th of July celebration brings in over 18,000 visitors, and all come for good eats, good conversation, and fireworks over Sunnyside Beach.  This Puget Sound community boasts a median age of 45.4 (as of the 2010 census) and 39.3% of folks are 45 years of age or older.  –photos courtesy of L-M-E & camknows via Flickr

Best Beach Towns in America: festival in Steilacoom WA

Do Your Research Before Buying A Medical Alert System

buying a medical alert system: OneCall Speaker PendantWhen consumers are faced with purchasing a medical alert system for a family member, they are typically in crisis mode, and generally prone to making rash decisions.  Don’t fall into this oh-so-common trap.  The Senior List is full of horror stories about folks that are trapped into long-term contracts, or faced with equipment that won’t function properly.  Before buying a medical alert system, it’s important that you DO YOUR RESEARCH.    Don’t think you can just jump on a particular brand and make a quick decision.  You might get lucky, but I don’t like those odds for most folks (and certainly not for our readers).

4 things you need to know before buying a medial alert system:

  1. What medical alert system options are out there?
  2. How reliable is the medical alert system?
  3. Is it easy to install and use?
  4. How much does it cost?

Let’s tackle each of these topics together so that you have a (more) solid base of understanding, and can make more informed choices down the road.

What medical alert system options are out there?

There are a lot of options out there, but the 2 biggest considerations here are;  Whether you need a traditional in-home (uses a home phone line) alert system, or a mobile (cellular based) medical alert system.

The traditional in-home medical alert systems utilize the home phone line, and the pendant alert buttons work like old cordless phones.  When depressed they communicate with a base station, and that base station makes the call (in case of emergency).  Most of these traditional pendant type medical alert systems work well, and have adequate coverage for an average size home.  Many of the pendants can be worn in the shower, and most have good battery lives.  These traditional options usually cost a little bit less than their cellular based cousins.

The mobile (cellular) based medical alert systems seem to be getting a lot of attention lately.  These have the range of a typical cell phone, and typically targeted at the more mobile  users.  These options are a little more functional but also carry a little more of a price tag on them.

Our advice:  If your loved one is not mobile and almost always in the home environment, a traditional pendant style medical alert is just fine.  If they get out to walk, garden, shop, or spend time with friends away from home, go with a mobile option.

How reliable is the medical alert system?

Well reliability is an interesting question, because frankly these medical alert systems aren’t (or shouldn’t be) complex.  You should ask about battery life, water resistance, range, average response times, and read the reviews of medical alert systems that you’re considering.  Generally if you go with a reputable company, they’ll take care of you.  If you don’t do your research and get stuck with someone that won’t back-up their product, you’re in trouble.

Our advice:  Take this list of questions you should be asking each medical alert provider and use it accordingly. (Pass this list on to anyone that can use it.  We hate seeing folks get burned!)

Is the medical alert system easy to install and use?

You’d think these things would be intuitive enough to set-up, test, and use… but in some cases they’re just not.  Take a look at the Verizon SureResponse Medical Alert System Reviews.  A quick read of the reviews tells you all you need to know.  We recommend you check other sources in addition to The Senior List, but yikes… These guys need to get it together.  Stick with manufacturers that will work with you if something goes wrong.

Our advice:  Make sure you don’t sign a long-term commitment until you’re 100% comfortable doing so.  IF a month-to-month is a bit more expensive but you’re still unsure.  Take it for a test drive, and consider it insurance (against making a bad medical alert call).

How much does it cost?

Traditional pendant style medical alert systems are going to run you between $20-$40 dollars per month.  I wouldn’t be paying more than $29 per month if I had minimal needs.  For cellular based models be prepared to pay just a bit more than the in-home models. Be advised that GreatCall has a nice mobile option that starts at $19 per month.  You don’t need to spend a lot to get what you need.  You just need to do your research!

Our advice:  In the end make sure you follow our top 3 rules when considering medical alert systems:  Research in advance, ask a lot of questions, and don’t get stuck with a long-term contract that you can’t afford or don’t want!

Would You Like a Medical Alert Recommendation?

Medical Alert Buyers Guide

Photo Of Elderly Couple In Same Place Each Season Until The Inevitable

Purportedly, journalist Ken Griffiths of The Sunday Times took a photo of an elderly couple in the same place (outside their home), each season for 12 consecutive years.  There are many theories surrounding this series of photos.  Some say it’s Ken Griffiths’ parents and he chronicled their love for one another through their final 12 seasons together.  Others merely note the acclaimed photographer and journalist took the photos of some would be friends to be originally published in 1973.  The results no matter which way you cut it are amazing, and they are making their way around the web for all to ponder.

“When you’re young you prefer the vulgar months, the fullness of the seasons. As you grow older you learn to like the in-between times, the months that can’t make up their minds. Perhaps it’s a way of admitting that things can’t ever bear the same certainty again.”
― Julian Barnes, Flaubert’s Parrot

There is something magical about each season anew.  Each bring with it inevitable change, glory and even decay.  Spring brings with it eternal hope and each season unveils a new chapter.  The same holds true in our lives, and I love to think about the parallels between our mother earth… and each of us that share her for a brief moment in time.

Photo of Elderly Couple: Ken Griffiths Season 1

Photo of Elderly Couple: Ken Griffiths Season 2

Photo of Elderly Couple: Ken Griffiths Season 3

Photo of Elderly Couple: Ken Griffiths Season 4

Photo of Elderly Couple: Ken Griffiths Season 5

Photo of Elderly Couple: Ken Griffiths Season 6

Photo of Elderly Couple: Ken Griffiths Season 7

Photo of Elderly Couple: Ken Griffiths Season 8

Photo of Elderly Couple: Ken Griffiths Season 9

Photo of Elderly Couple: Ken Griffiths Season 10

Photo of Elderly Couple: Ken Griffiths Season 11

Photo of Elderly Couple: Ken Griffiths Final Season

Improve Home Access For Seniors – Tune Up Your Doors

home access for seniors: Creating an accessible home with doors and doorwaysAre the doors in your home sticky, narrow or just plain unwieldy? For most of us, this can be a big annoyance. However, for seniors, it can be a significant impediment to mobility in the home and overall home access for seniors.

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to improve the situation and make daily life a little easier.

Here are some ideas:

Door Knobs – Consider replacing door knobs with door levers. These are simply easier for seniors to open than a traditional round door knob. Internal door hardware is affordable and relatively easy to replace. Entry door locksets are more expensive, but won’t necessarily break the bank if you shop around.

Misaligned Doors – When doors are out of alignment, they can rub on the frame and become difficult to open and close. There are a few quick tricks you can try before you resort to re-framing the door.

  • If the problem is very minor, you can sometimes just sand the edge of the door that is rubbing. This is permanent and is not recommended if the problem is seasonal or if too much material must be removed.
  • Use shims to move the upper or lower hinge out from the door frame slightly. While you may be able to use cardboard or washers to accomplish this, it’s probably better to purchase door shims that are specifically designed for this purpose.
  • Another trick is to slightly bend one or both of the door hinge knuckles. Crescent wrenches are frequently used for this, but there are now knuckle bender tools to make it easier.

Narrow Doorways – Some doorways are too narrow to provide access for a walker or wheelchair. You have a few options:

  • ‘Swing clear’ hinges are a great way to improve access. As the name implies, these hinges allow the door to swing completely out of the door opening. In some cases, this can add a couple inches of badly needed clearance.
  • If you don’t need to close that particular door, consider removing the door and hinge altogether. You can also remove the innermost strip of trim that functions as a door stop. If the doorway needs to be even wider, you can try removing the entire door frame and trimming out the opening with thin sheet-rock.
  • Depending on the location in your home and the wall framing surrounding the door, you may be able to replace the existing door with a wider pre-hung door. While this may not be a DIY job, a good contractor can probably do it for a reasonable price.

Garage Doors – Not only can garage doors be difficult to open and close, they can be downright hazardous for some seniors. While most problems with garage doors can be easily fixed, it is recommended that you hire a licensed contractor for significant improvements. Garage door springs are dangerous to work with and some municipalities may even require building permits.

  • If you have a slab garage door, check into getting a roll-up door. These should be much safer and easier for seniors to manage.
  • Remove dirt and debris from the garage door and the areas around it.
  • Lubricate your door hardware. If you are unsure of the best type, look for a lubricant specifically labeled for garage door hardware.
  • Replace your garage door springs. If the springs are old, they may not be functioning as well as they should. They could also be dangerous in the event of a failure.
  • If you don’t have one already, consider purchasing an automatic garage door opener. The quality of these continues to improve and they are more affordable than ever.

Sliding Doors – Sliding doors are inherently more difficult to open than swinging doors and can be even more of a challenge for seniors. These generally require more ongoing maintenance to function smoothly.

  • Clean out the tracks regularly.
  • Lubricate moving parts.
  • Although it can be tricky, many sliding doors have screws to adjust alignment. If needed, replacement parts are generally available as well.
  • Consider replacing a sliding door with a pair of swinging French doors. Because the sliding door opening is typically wide, replacement with French doors is generally easier than many other installations.

Keyless Entry Systems – Some seniors have difficulties when using keys. Door locks with combination buttons and remote key fobs are now available. Some of these can even be activated by other remote devices such as cell phones or security systems.

While these are all great improvements for the doors themselves, don’t forget to address the lighting near your doorways. For example, motion detectors can automatically turn on the lights when approaching the door. This will free up both hands for opening the door, carrying groceries or even stability. Now all you need is a friendly welcome mat!