Flight Tracking Apps and Websites

Flight Tracking Apps and Websites (via Tales Told From The Road)

I’m sitting at home, thinking maybe it’s time to fly off somewhere on vacation. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I know that hundreds of planes are taking off and landing at local airports throughout the day and evening. But who’s up there…

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Do I Need A Hearing Aid? What To Expect Before You Buy

If you’ve ever wondered; Do I need a hearing aid?  You just might… Professionals will tell you that hearing loss is such a gradual decline that folks with hearing issues are usually the last to know.  Many times they blame hearing issues on others, believing friends are mumbling, or perhaps they’re “quiet talkers” (to steal a Seinfeldism).

Do I need a hearing aid?

News reporter Emily Robinson interviews Heather Bennett, an audiologist with Advanced Hearing Centers for some great tips on what to expect if you think you might need a hearing aid.  First step (and most obvious on the list) is to get yourself tested.  Find a local qualified resource that can professionally diagnose your specific situation, and get some unbiased information on what options are available to you.  A number of audiologists sell hearing aids and will likely want to sell you one that they stock.

Buying a hearing aid from an audiologist isn’t a bad idea, but understand what you’re buying before you take the plunge.  Search online for equivalent hearing aid prices, and don’t be afraid to negotiate with sellers.  Did you know that Costco is now in the hearing aid business?  Bottom line is that consumers need to do their homework more than ever.  The old adage about making a good purchasing decision still holds true to this day;  Buy right… Cry once.

 

 

Medical Alert System Satisfaction Ratings

The Senior List surveyed medical alert system subscribers and found that customer satisfaction results are mixed (at best).  The survey which spanned late 2013 to February of 2014 illustrated how vulnerable medical alert providers are to competition in this space.  A full third of respondents noted that when their agreement (contract) was up, they were leaving their current provider.  This is in stark contrast to 18% of respondents that said they were very satisfied, and they would recommend their medical alert provider.  Key takeaway: There are some really good medical alert providers… and some to stay away from.

Medical Alert System Satisfation SurveyThe medical alert landscape is changing.  This industry is going digital and mobile.  An industry that once tethered users to within 600 feet of the home (base station), has grown wings.  What was once dubbed “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” has now morphed into “I’m going shopping, but just in case I’ll take my medical alert system along”.

A number of manufacturers now monitor their users via a cellular signal just like the phone in your pocket.  This allows family members a safety-net in case of emergencies.  Another nice feature of cellular based medical alert systems is that they have built in GPS tracking to locate users if needed.

If you’re interested in the good, the bad, and the ugly of medical alert systems make yourself familiar with the comments section while you browse through our product reviews.  Folks here aren’t afraid to speak up… Especially if they’re not happy. Keep this in mind when you’re taking in comments from any product review site however.  Folks expect providers to at least meet expectations, and when they don’t, there can be a backlash.

What’s interesting (and telling) is to see the response (or lack thereof) by providers after a misstep.  Quality medical alert providers are transparent, responsive and fair to their customers.  Stay away from the ones that are rigid, secretive and unresponsive.

Lesson learned:  Do your homework.  Ask the right questions.  Know your rights.  Read the fine print.

Top Must-Have Senior Friendly Gadgets

Modern technology has definitely helped us go through our lives with ease. But for our seniors, living alone can be tough and dangerous at times. With advancing age, some basic tasks require help from caregivers or loved ones. To help seniors keep or regain their independence while keeping an eye on safety, here are some devices that can help out. These gadgets are designed for the elderly, and will help them remain safe and secure.

Mobile Alert Systems

Commonly known as Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS) help seniors live independently.  Some of these systems are tethered or attached to a phone line, and the range is limited to a person’s home. Thanks to technology, these systems are getting smaller and mobile. From pendants to wrist-worn devices, seniors can now move freely outside the home and remain in contact with . An example of this would be our previous featured Verizonwireless’ SureResponse Medical Alert System. It allows users to contact their caregivers or loved one via cellular technology. Other companies are also offering the same service and technologies for the elderly. Learn more about this device on our previous post.

GPS-enabled Footwear

By the year 2050, almost 15 million Americans will be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. To date, it’s the 5th leading cause of death for people aged 65 and above. With almost 300 dementia-stricken loved-ones wandering or getting lost each day, the GPS-enabled shoe was born. Developed by the GTX Corp and Aextrex Worldwide, this shoe has a built-in mini locator on its heel and counterweights on the other end for balance. The shoe was originally to be used to track missing children but is now targeted for adults with cognitive deficits.  Since shoes are one of the most familiar objects for daily use, patients exhibiting signs of dementia or cognitive disorders won’t reject them.

Courtesy of gtxcorporation

Senior-friendly Mobile Phones

Smartphones may the in-thing for the young but it can be a nightmare for the elderly. Although, they have smart features, seniors need basic and intuitive. Seniors dread being alone or isolated, and mobile phones can help them feel connected.  Phones like the Clarity mobile phone from Plantronics Inc. fit the bill.  It has a textured case which allows for an easier grip and is designed with four buttons: “Call”, “End Call”, and two buttons to navigate through the contacts list. Since most seniors aged 64 to 75 years old suffer from hearing loss, the phone has an amplifier, making it louder than regular mobile phones. These types of mobile phones can help seniors live independently, while giving loved ones peace of mind.

Electronic Pill Dispensers and other Assistive Devices

 

Helping seniors live independently can be challenging, especially when it comes to medications. Most seniors are required to take at least four medications per day. To help organize their daily dose of medicines, electronic pill dispensers are a must. Aside from dispensing pills, these devices can also remind them when they need to take their medicines. According to research conducted by the National Institute for Aging, using electronic medication reminders help seniors take their daily doses on time. Also, these assistive devices prevent mixing drugs that can result in adverse effects that may lead to death. Do your research on the best pill dispenser for your loved one, and find out what’s best for them.

These are four quality elder care technologies that are must-haves.  Although there are other gadgets and mobile apps that also help, we believe the equipment presented are necessary to keep our loved ones safe.  What other new senior-friendly technologies can you recommend?

5 Tips on Choosing A Medical Alert System Provider

OneCall Medical AlertThe folks at OneCall Medical Alert reached out to The Senior List on Twitter and asked us to share some information regarding one of our favorite topics.  That topic: “How to Choose A Personal Emergency Response System” (also known as a medical alert system).  They offer some good advice that’s worth sharing.  Weather you’re choosing a mobile medical alert system or a traditional (in-home) style medical alert system, you’ll want to make sure that the provider can answer the following questions (special thanks to the folks at OneCall):

Choosing the Right Medical Alert System

    1. Is the provider accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB)?  The BBB’s mission is “to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust.”  The BBB says they “see trust as a function of two primary factors – integrity and performance. Integrity includes respect, ethics and intent. Performance speaks to a business’s track record of delivering results in accordance with BBB standards and/or addressing customer concerns in a timely, satisfactory manner.”  That said, there are a whole lot of businesses that have high ratings on the BBB, and just like any directory site you can’t take it as the gospel.  You’ve go to look around at other reputable review sites like Angie’s List and (of course) The Senior List.
    2. Are you locked into a long-term contract?  We agree with the folks at OneCall.  Unless you absolutely trust the medical alert provider you decide to choose, don’t sign a long-term contract!  There are plenty of reputable providers out there that don’t push these silly contracts.  Companies like GreatCall, Philips Lifeline and OneCall are good examples of no-contract alert systems. (*Note that OneCall does require 3 months of prepaid service at activation.)
    3. Does the medical alert provider have multiple emergency call centers? This is probably a good question to ask, but more importantly how dependable is the call center? If you search around for medical alert system reviews, you’ll probably receive some feedback on this topic.  OneCall says that you should also “ask where their emergency call center is located, if they have more than one emergency call center, and if a contingency plan is in place in case a call center is shut down” (because of a storm or other natural disaster).  These are great questions!
    4. Is the system easy to set up and test?  You’ll want to be clear on how to set up the device in your home, AND how to test it (on a regular basis).  Medical alert systems are not doing you any good if they aren’t in good working order.  Further inquiries need to be made regarding maintenance (batteries need to be tested and/or replaced,coverage area needs to be tested and retested, etc.).
    5. Does the provider have flexible payment options?  Most top providers do have options (monthly, quarterly, annual) but regardless of your payment option, make sure you understand what the implications are if your loved one decides to leave the provider (for another), or is no longer in need of the medical alert system (perhaps they move into a care facility, or they pass away).

 

These are great questions to ask when evaluating a medical alert provider.  We’d recommend these questions in conjunction with our popular post entitled Medical Alert Systems: The Top 10 Questions You Should Ask Before Buying.

Know Before You Go - It will save you one heck of a headache!

Seniors: Facebook’s Latest Growing Demographic of Users

A few simple steps can protect your privacy on facebookAccording to a study conducted in 2011 by North American Technographics, 49% of U.S. seniors spend time online.  Just under half of that number are currently active on Facebook.  Many use the site to keep in touch with old friends and keep tabs on their family members.

As seniors are new to the technology, they may not be aware of the need to protect their information from potential hackers. This leaves them extremely vulnerable to frauds, scams, and even theft and burglary in some cases.

Many seniors attend classes to learn about Facebook terminology. The following is an extensive guide for seniors on how to stay safe on Facebook.

Facebook Basic Terminology

Friends: These are generally family members and friends you know personally. However, some people have hundreds of friends whom they’ve never met. You can add friends by sending a friend “request” and the person has to accept the request to become one of your Facebook friends.

Be careful when responding to friend requests from people you don’t know personally. Your “friends” have access to your personal information on Facebook that the general public can’t see.

Wall: Your FB “wall” is where people can write public (within FB) messages to you, like “Happy Birthday!” Your wall also shows the posts you’ve made personally and has links to your friends’ posts if you’ve commented on their posts.

Status: Your “status” is anything you want to post about yourself. It can be family news, a joke, or anything you find interesting. When you update your status, whatever you post appears on your friends’ news feeds.

Be selective about what you share as your status! Don’t, for instance, announce that you’re leaving for a month in Europe or even that you’re at Lone Star Steakhouse for dinner. Beside the dangers of announcing you aren’t home, most friends really don’t care if you’re at the grocery store or shoe shopping.

Groups: FB groups are where people with shared interests – cooking, knitting, cats, politics, power tools, etc. – can interact by sharing comments and links. Groups are a good way for clubs to publicize events and keep members up-to-date on events.
Things to remember about groups:

  • Non-FB friends in your groups see your name, but don’t see your personal information.
  • Groups can either be tagged as “open, closed, or secret.”
  • Secret groups are invisible to search engines and even FB searches. Group members have to “invite” new members to join. Secret groups are a good option if you want to keep information completely private and hidden – like youth groups, a Sunday school information board, etc.

Shared Links: Many people have inadvertently downloaded viruses & other malicious software by clicking on suspicious links in Facebook. This usually happens when a friend’s account gets hacked and the hacker posts a link with a provocative – but generic – title like: “See what miraculous ingredient gets rid of stubborn belly fat!” or “Look at the family pictures I just posted” or “Can you believe this?” or “Claim your $500 gift card to Starbuck’s, Costco, ….” or any other offer that sounds too good to be true.

Secure URL: Pay close attention to the link’s URL (http address). If it’s to the New York Times, WalMart.com, or other recognizable sites, then it’s probably ok. But if it’s to a site you’ve never heard of – especially if it has an international address (something other than .com, .org, etc…), then it very well could be a spam and/or dangerous link. When in doubt, don’t click.

Keeping Your Private Information Private

Password: Follow all the basic security steps to set your Facebook password (and all other online passwords for that matter)– avoid using your pet’s names, children’s names, and other things that are easy to guess. One good hint is to use both numbers and letters, but make sure you can remember them. If you remember your childhood phone # or a random grouping of numbers and letters, that’s a good start.  There are sites that will generate strong passwords for you if you are having a hard time coming up with one on your own.

Security Settings: Under the “Account” link in your account, there’s an option titled “Account Settings.” Click the link and then select “Security” from the left-hand menu.

  • Enable “Secure Browsing”: That sets up a secure http connection. So when you log into your FB account, the URL in the browser window will start with “https” instead of just http.

Privacy Settings: Access your privacy settings from the “Privacy Settings” option under the “Account” tab.

Be careful when you play any games or take Facebook quizzes.  They will most likely require you to give access to your personal data that will be used to target advertising to you and your friends.  The Privacy Settings page also offers options to control how people can find you on Facebook and whether search engines will index your content to show up in search results.  Make sure to select the “off” option for search engine indexing to maximize your privacy.

In the past, Facebook has justifiably been criticized for its lack of transparency with privacy. The service recently launched a “Privacy Shortcuts” link that’s always in the top right-hand corner of your Facebook page.  Be sure to check your privacy settings occasionally to make sure they are up to date and in line with your preferences.

Carli De La Cruz is the Sales & Marketing Assistant at Bay Alarm Medical. Carli earned a B.A. in Sociology with Legal Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She currently manages all of Bay Alarm Medical’s social media sites, and assists with advertising campaigns. She writes blogs on senior health, retirement, senior living, baby boomer news, and medical alert industry news. You can read more of her posts at Bay Alarm Medical blog.

Latest iPhone 5S 5C and iOS 7 Video

In follow-up to our earlier post prior to the iPhone 5S announcement today, we thought you might like to see the latest video’s for both the iPhone 5S and iOS 7.  BTW for the record most of the rumors surrounding the new iPhone were right on point. Enjoy!

Latest iPhone 5S Video

Latest iOS 7 Video

Latest iPhone 5C Video

iPhone 5S and 5C Announcement Expected Today From Apple

Apple invite imageWell today is the day Apple fans.  Apple’s much anticipated iPhone 5S and 5C are expected to be unveiled today at 10 a.m. PT.  Just 3 questions remain ahead of this morning’s announcement; 1.  Anything special about this iPhone?  2.  When will it be available? and 3.  What else with they tease us with?  Our predictions follow:

 

 

What’s so special about the iPhone 5S?

Rumors have been swirling for months about the iPhone 5S and it’s cheaper cousin the 5C.  The latest (feature) rumors include a dual LED flash, fingerprint scanner, longer lasting battery, faster processor, higher resolution, more color options, more RAM, more (storage) memory, better camera, and these beasts will ship with the new redesigned iOS7.  IF you don’t have an iPhone 5 yet, it’s time to upgrade.  IF you already have the iPhone 5, you might consider waiting for the iPhone 6 (unless you have $200-$300 dollars burning a hole in your pocket).  A new gold colored 5S wouldn’t be enough for me to upgrade from 5 to 5S, but hey that’s just me!

When will the iPhone 5S be available?

Well if Apple follows their traditional pattern, it will be available on September 20th, which would be 10 days following today’s announcement.  They could surprise us with immediate availability in some markets but that’s not likely.  Note: The Apple Store is currently “down” and being updated.

Apple store down image

What will Apple Tease Us With?

It could be on of a few things.  First, wearables are all the rage.  There’s been speculation about an iWatch all over the place.  Samsung recently announced their Samsung Galaxy Gear SmartWatch (a connected iWatch like device) and apple has been rumored to be dabbling in wearables for some time now.  Apple could also announce Apple TV enhancements, larger screen phones coming soon… (Can you say iPhone 6?), and/or an updated iPad line-up.

If you’re interested, click through to read our top 10 iPhone apps for Seniors 2012.  We’ll be following all the action down in Cupertino… Will you?

Philips New Medical Alert System GoSafe To Launch In December

Philips GoSafe PhotoBack in June we wrote about the delayed launch of Philips new flagship medical alert system called GoSafe.  We wrote:

“The new Philips GoSafe product is the latest in a line of newer mobile medical alert systems which uses the same cellular signal as your cell phone.  Instead of being tethered to a home phone-line, the consumer can take these new devices with them wherever they go (out to work in the yard, to the mall, or to a doctor’s appointment).  This new mobility feature is what separates the new mobile devices from their traditional (tethered) cousins.” — The Senior List.com

Earlier this year, Philip’s representatives told The Senior List to expect a commercial launch of GoSafe around fall of 2013.  Now Philips tells us GoSafe will launch sometime around December of this year.  We aren’t sure what the delay is, but these things occur all the time in the medical device industry.  Frankly, you’re better off getting it right (before getting out of the gate) when you have a product launch of this magnitude.  You only get one chance at a national (or global) launch.  All Philips has to do is look at Big Red (Verizon Wireless) to see how to screw-up the national launch of a much anticipated new medical alert system (we’re talking about you SureResponse).  Someone once said “better to be safe than sorry”… We’re guessing Philips is taking this to heart, and wants to get it right the first time.

In advance of the launch, Philips has been putting together some marketing resources including this video (below).  We’re actually excited for this entry into the mobile medical alert system market.  The GoSafe has all the makings of brand-leader if Philips executes on their marketing strategy, AND focuses on customer satisfaction.

We’ll keep an eye on this sector as it continues to evolve.  We’re guessing the best is yet to come when it comes to safety for seniors outside the home.  The GoSafe might just be the best of the bunch, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Product Review: Video Care- Family Communication Made Simple

family communication made easy with Video CareMany of today’s seniors living at home don’t have a son or daughter next door.  The interaction with immediate family may be limited to phone calls, occasional visits, and holiday gatherings.  Video Care has developed a personal communication tool with a unique approach to solving the long-distance caregiver gap by combining complex technology with a simple, elder friendly interface.

Video Care brings face-to-face companionship and interaction to the elderly through a touch screen system that requires no mouse, keyboard or computer skills to operate.  A touch of the screen opens a two way video screen with a family member, caregiver or friend.

Video Care was kind enough to send me one of their systems to check out and see exactly how easy it would be for a senior with little or no computer skills.  I was very impressed with the simplicity of the unit and ease to set it up.  In addition to using two-way-video, loved ones can also share instant photos, videos and music.  Video Care also offers a nifty senior app if you want to share videos and photos directly from your smartphone.   The system can also be set up for medication, appointment, and activities of daily living reminders. Loved ones will be notified if the user does not respond to the reminders.

video care can be used to share photos

Video Care can be used to remind users to take their medication.

 

For professional caregivers, Video Care allows remote visits without the cost and time of driving to the home.  Clients can be checked on several times a day for a fraction of the cost of a typical home care visit.  Geriatric care managers could also use Video Care to check in with caregivers already in the home as a quality assurance tool, or as a problem solving option (in the case of any unusual behavior or symptoms).   Video Care is currently being used by in-home care agencies and geriatric care managers as a value-add to their current client base (I think this is a fantastic idea by the way).

I had the opportunity to speak with David Trescot, Co-Founder and CEO of Video Care.  One of my favorite stories he told me about Video Care users was about a daughter and her elderly mother who turn on Video Care every morning and use it as a “window” into each other’s homes.  They chat, have breakfast together, and go about their day with the two-way video all day long.  They’re able to participate in each other’s lives, and the daughter has peace of mind each morning when she sees her mother appear on the screen.

The other aspect I love about Video Care is that it can be used along the continuum of care for a loved one.  Video Care can operate from any location that has internet access (wireless works too).  I imagine the transition into assisted living or a skilled nursing facility could be greatly eased with daily check-ins and support from family and friends, even if they live on the other side of the world.

I look forward to following Video Care and others that will follow in the exploding telehealth and aging-in-place space.

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