Family Staffing Blog

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SAVVY LIVING – Getting Around When You No Longer Drive


Where can I find out about alternative transportation options for my elderly mother? She needs to give up driving, but before she does, we need to figure out how she will get around.

Alternative transportation services vary widely by community. The services available to your mom will depend on where she lives.


Transportation Options

While most urban areas offer seniors a variety of transportation services, the options may be few for those living in the suburbs, small towns and rural areas. Alternative transportation is an essential link helping seniors who no longer drive get to their doctor’s appointments, stores, social activities and more.

Here is a rundown of possible solutions that can help your mom get around, along with some resources to help you locate them. These solutions will vary depending on where she lives.

  • Family and friends: This is by far the most often used and favorite option among seniors. Make a list of all possible candidates your mom can call on, along with their availability and contact information.


  • Local transportation programs: These are usually sponsored by nonprofit organizations that serve seniors. These services may charge a nominal fee or accept donations. They often operate with the help of volunteer drivers.  Also check out the Independent Transportation Network, which is a national nonprofit that has 27 affiliate transportation programs in 23 states. With this program, seniors pay membership dues and fees based on mileage. Most programs will let your mom donate her car in return for credits toward future rides.


  • Demand response services: Often referred to as “dial-a-ride” or “elderly and disabled transportation service,” these are typically government-funded programs that provide door-to-door transportation services by appointment and usually charge a small fee or donation on a per ride basis. Many use vans and offer accessible services for riders with special needs.


  • Taxi or car service: These private services offer flexible scheduling, but they can be expensive. However, they may be cheaper than owning a car. Some taxi or car services may be willing to set up accounts that allow other family members to pay for services and some may offer senior discounts. Be sure to ask.  Another option to look into is a ride-sharing service. Ride-sharing connects people with cars to people who need rides. The larger ride-sharing companies offer services in dozens of cities across the U.S. and must be accessed via an application on a smart phone.


  • Private program services: Some hospitals, health clinics, senior centers, adult day centers, malls or other businesses may offer transportation for program participants or customers. Additionally, some nonmedical home-care agencies that bill themselves as providing companionship and running errands or doing chores may also provide transportation.

Family Staffing Solutions specializes in providing the best in-home assistance services.  Our services include transportation to Doctors visits, trips to the mall, to visit family and friends, church, and other interests and errands.  (Added by Family Staffing Solutions)


  • Mass transit: Public transportation, (buses, trains, subways, etc.) where available, can also be an affordable option and may offer seniors reduced rates.


  • Hire someone: If your mom lives in an area where there are limited options or no transportation services available, another alternative may be to pay someone in the community to drive her. Consider hiring a neighbor, retiree or student that has a flexible schedule and would not mind making a few extra bucks.


Where to Look

To find out what transportation services are available in your mom’s community, contact the Rides in Sight national toll-free call center at 855-607-4337 and the Eldercare Locator (800-677-1116), which will direct you to her area agency.

You can contact local senior centers, places of worship and retirement communities for other possible options. Additionally, you may want to check with the state department of transportation at and the American Public Transportation Association at

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of “The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.


Published August 30, 2019


How to Help a Parent Declutter

My 70-year-old mother has become somewhat of a hoarder. Since my father died a few years ago, her house is so disorganized and messy with stuff that it is becoming a hazard. What should I do to help her?

Clutter addiction is a problem that affects up to 5% of Americans, many of whom are seniors. The problems can range anywhere from moderate messiness to severe hoarding, which may be related to a mental health condition such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. Here are some things you should know along with some tips and resources that can help your mom.

Why People Hoard

Many people hoard because they have an extreme sentimental attachment to their possessions, or they believe they might need their items at a later date. Hoarding can also be a sign that an older person is depressed or showing early signs of dementia.

Common problems for seniors who live amongst excessive clutter include tripping, falling and breaking a bone; overlooking bills; missing medications that are hidden in the clutter; suffering from the environmental effects of mold, mildew and dust; and even living among insects and rodents.

What to Do

If you find that your mom has a moderate clutter problem, there are a number of things you can do to help. Start by having a talk with her, respectfully expressing your concern for her health and safety, and offering your assistance to help declutter. 

Most professional organizers recommend decluttering in small steps. If your mom accepts your offer to help, start by taking one room at a time or even a portion of a room at a time. This will help prevent your mom from getting overwhelmed. 

Before you start, designate three piles or boxes for your mom’s things – one pile is for items she wants to keep and put away, another is the donate pile and the last is the throw away pile.

You and your mom will need to determine which pile each item belongs in as you work. If your mom struggles with sentimental items that she never uses, like her husband’s old tools or her mother’s china for example, suggest she keep only one item for memory sake and donate the rest or give to family members who will use them. You will also need to help her set up a system for organizing the kept items. 

Find Help

If you need some help with the decluttering and organizing, consider hiring a professional organizer who can come to your mom’s home to help you prioritize, organize and remove the clutter. The nonprofit National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals has a directory on its website to help you locate a professional in your area. 

*Aging In Place Transition Services is a local team of professional organizers that Family Staffing Solutions is familiar with. 

If your mom has a more serious hoarding problem (if her daily functioning is impaired or if she is having financial difficulties, health problems, or other issues because of her hoarding) you should seek professional help. A doctor may prescribe antidepressants or therapy to help address control issues, anxiety, depression and other feelings that may underlie the hoarding tendencies to make it easier for her to confront her disorder. 

To learn more and find professional help see the International OCD Foundation which provides a hoarding center on their website, which offers information, resources, treatments, self-help groups and more. 

*(text added by Family Staffing Solutions, Inc.)

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of “The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Tips for Traveling with Seniors This Summer

Travel offers a host of benefits to people of every age, including mental, spiritual, physical and emotional health improvements.

The Power of Travel

Numerous studies have demonstrated the real impact of travel on adults. Men who take vacations once a year are over 30% less likely to die from heart disease. Women who take vacations twice a year are less likely to experience depression and more likely to have lower stress levels. Travel also provides people with the opportunity to expand their horizons and become more open-minded and emotionally stable. For elders, travel also offers numerous low-impact and high-impact ways to get moving and explore a new place.

Avoiding the Challenges that Can Occur

Unfortunately, some of the potential challenges to senior travel often prevent retirees and elders from exploring the world around them. There are plenty of things that could go wrong, but planning ahead can offset many of them. To prepare for a trip this summer with your loved one:

  • Don’t choose a complicated, lengthy or stressful trip. Select a destination that is easy to navigate, or explore your options for booking a group trip or cruise that simplifies travel.
  • Instead of going for the cheapest route, always choose the shortest, most direct route for travel, even if it means that you need to pay a little bit more. If you do incorporate layovers into your itinerary, make sure that you allow for adequate time to stretch out and grab a meal in between flights.
  • Showing up at the airport and expecting a wheelchair can get you mixed results. Take the time to request any special accommodations or services in advance. Any airport can help by providing a free wheelchair if staffed by an airport employee, and other accommodations are often available. If you don’t see anything listed, don’t be afraid to ask.
  • Prepare medical contact information in advance and make a list of phone numbers for any medical providers. Count prescriptions in advance and arrange for a refill ahead of time if the medication will run out while your loved one is on vacation.
  • It’s also smart to carry medication with you on the plane and set alarms on your watch or phone to remind your loved one to take them. This is especially important on vacation, when abrupt changes to the schedule could make prescriptions sit forgotten.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance. These policies allow for seniors to receive money back for their trip reservations if a medical emergency occurs or something goes wrong, and they require medical treatment abroad.
  • Never encourage your loved one to push themselves too hard. Travel is hard on the body, and too much physical activity and stress can lead to health problems or exacerbate existing ones.
  • Travel with family, especially if your loved one is going abroad. Travel can be disorienting and stressful, and having another family member there to assist with navigation, filling out forms, communicating and getting to the destination is helpful.


Source:  Ellen Platt, Options in Geriatric Care



The Holidays and Alzheimer’s

The holidays are a time when family and friends often come together. But for families living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, the holidays can be challenging. Take a deep breath. With some planning and adjusted expectations, your celebrations can still be happy, memorable occasions.

Check in with the person with dementia

In the early stage, a person with Alzheimer’s may experience minor changes. Some may withdraw and be less comfortable socializing while others may relish seeing family and friends as before. The key is to check in with each other and discuss options. A simple “How are you doing” or “How are you coping with everything?” may be appreciated. Plan the holidays together, focusing on the things that bring happiness and letting go of activities that seem overwhelming or stressful.

For people in the middle or late stages, consider rethinking holiday plans. Everyone is unique and finding a plan that works can involve trial and error.

Familiarize others with the situation

The holidays are full of emotions, so it can help to let guests know what to expect before they arrive. If the person is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, relatives and friends might not notice any changes. But the person with dementia may have trouble following conversation or tend to repeat him- or herself. Family can help with communication by being patient, not interrupting or correcting, and giving the person time to finish his or her thoughts. If the person is in the middle or late stages of Alzheimer’s, there may be significant changes in cognitive abilities since the last time an out-of-town friend or relative has visited. These changes can be hard to accept. Make sure visitors understand that changes in behavior and memory are caused by the disease and not the person.

  • You may find this easier to share changes in a letter or email that can be sent to multiple recipients. Here are some examples:

>> “I’m writing to let you know how things are going at our house. While we’re looking forward to your visit, we thought it might be helpful if you understood our current situation before you arrive.

>> “You may notice that ___ has changed since you last saw him/her. Among the changes you may notice are ___.

>> “I’ve enclosed a picture so you know how ___ looks now. Because ___ sometimes has problems remembering and thinking clearly, his/her behavior is a little unpredictable.

>> “Please understand that ___ may not remember who you are and may confuse you with someone else. Please don’t feel offended by this. He/she appreciates your being with us and so do we.”

>> “Please treat ___ as you would any person. A warm smile and a gentle touch on ___’s shoulder or hand will be appreciated more than you know.”

>> “We would ask that you call when you’re nearby so we can prepare for your arrival. With your help and support, we can create a holiday memory that we’ll all treasure.”

For more ideas on how to let others know about changes in your loved one, join ALZConnected, our online support community where caregivers like you share tips on what has worked for them.

Adjust expectations

  • The stress of caregiving responsibilities layered with holiday traditions can take a toll. Call a face-to-face meeting or arrange for a group discussion via telephone, video chat or email for family and friends to discuss holiday celebrations. Make sure that everyone understands your caregiving situation and has realistic expectations about what you can and cannot do. No one should expect you to maintain every holiday tradition or event.
  • Be good to yourself. Give yourself permission to do only what you can reasonably manage. If you’ve always invited 15 to 20 people to your home, consider paring it down to a few guests for a simple meal. Let others contribute. Have a potluck dinner or ask them to host at their home. You also may want to consider breaking large gatherings up into smaller visits of two or three people at a time to keep the person with Alzheimer’s and yourself from getting overtired.
  • Do a variation on a theme. If evening confusion and agitation are a problem, consider changing a holiday dinner into a holiday lunch or brunch. If you do keep the celebration at night, keep the room well-lit and try to avoid any known triggers.

Involve the person with dementia

  • Build on past traditions and memories. Focus on activities that are meaningful to the person with dementia. Your family member may find comfort in singing old holiday songs, watching favorite holiday movies, or looking through old photo albums.
  • Involve the person in holiday preparation. As the person’s abilities allow, invite him or her to help you prepare food, wrap packages, help decorate or set the table. This could be as simple as having the person measure an ingredient or hand decorations to you as you put them up. (Be careful with decoration choices. Blinking lights may confuse or scare a person with dementia, and decorations that look like food could be mistaken as edible.)
  • Maintain a normal routine. Sticking to the person’s normal routine will help keep the holidays from becoming disruptive or confusing. Plan time for breaks and rest.

Adapt gift giving

  • Encourage safe and useful gifts for the person with dementia. Diminishing capacity may make some gifts unusable or even dangerous to a person with dementia. If someone asks for gift ideas, suggest items the person with dementia needs or can easily enjoy. Ideas include: an identification bracelet (available through MedicAlert®+ Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®), comfortable clothing, favorite foods and photo albums.
  • Put respite care on your wish list. If friends or family ask what you want for a gift, suggest a gift certificate or something that will help you take care of yourself as you care for your loved one. This could be a cleaning or household chore service, an offer to provide respite care, or something that provides you with a bit of rest and relaxation.

When the person lives in a care facility

A holiday is still a holiday whether it is celebrated at home or at a care facility. Here are some ways to celebrate together:

  • Consider joining your loved one in any facility-planned holiday activities
  • Bring a favorite holiday food to share
  • Sing holiday songs and ask if other residents can join in
  • Read a favorite holiday story or poem out loud


Source:  Alzheimer’s Association

Veterans Benefits Aid Counsel

At Family Staffing Solutions, Inc. we proudly care for our Veterans, their spouses and surviving spouses every day. Our commitment to their care is just one of the ways we demonstrate appreciation for their service to our country.

These heroes – our fathers, mothers, spouses, and friends, – may be eligible for benefits through the VA.  To find out if these funds may be available to help you pay for long-term care, we encourage you to call:

Veterans Benefits Aid Counsel

   Toll Free:  888-388-1401


Contact Carroll Dale for a free pre-filing consultation to check eligibility to understand how or if these funds can help pay for long-term care. A married couple can access over $2100/month, single veteran over $1800/month and a surviving spouse over $1200/month. You must have a medical need requiring assistance and a limited net worth.

Visit their website for a chat feature or private online inquiry.

Qualifying dates of service for Pension plus Aid and Attendance:

WWII: 12/7/1941-12/31/1946                                Korea:  6/27/1950-1/31/1955

Vietnam:  12/28/1961-8/4/1964 (in country)  Vietnam II:  8/5/1964-5/7/1975

90 days consecutive active duty days with 1 day falling in the listed time frames

Mideast Conflicts:  8/02/1990 to date

Two years active duty with 1 day falling in the listed time frame

Veterans Benefits Aid Counsel, PC

305 E Spring St. , Cookeville, TN  38501

Henry Fincher, Esq.

VA Accredited * TN Licensed

Direct:  931-739-3053 * Paralegals:  931-650-3858/888-388-1404

Fax:  931-650-3862

Hours:  Monday – Friday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm

We also invite you to visit the Family Staffing Solutions’ Veterans Corner


According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, more than 44 million Americans aged 50 and older either have or face the threat of developing osteoporosis due to low bone density levels. Projections put this number at more than 60 million by 2020. Across the world, a fracture due to osteoporosis happens about once every three seconds, causing nearly 9 million fractures—just from stress being put on weak bones.

Osteoporosis is treatable, reversible, and can be prevented for longer periods of time with the knowledge of what it is and how to attack it. So let’s dig into osteoporosis to find out what it is, how to notice it, its causes, and what to do once you or a loved one have it.

What Is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a degenerative bone disease that causes the loss of bone mass and bone tissue. Over the course of your life, old bone is removed from your body through a process called resorption, and new bone replaces it through formation, according to the National Resource Center for Osteoporosis and Other Bone Diseases.

However, there comes a time when your body can no longer keep up with the amount of bone you are losing. Most humans reach their peak bone mass” in their early 20s, and then your body slowly (very slowly) starts lose more bone than it creates. This process takes a long time, though, especially when it comes to impacting the strength of your bones. The resource center also says that the process of resorption usually starts to outpace the process of formation by the time you hit 30, whether you’re a man or a woman. In most cases, men develop more bone over the course of their lives than women do, which leaves women more susceptible to suffering from osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis has onset once your bones get to a point where they are brittle, weaker, and easily broken. There are little to no symptoms of the disease, so easily breaking a bone may be the first sign that you have osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is a large reason why seniors falling is such a big deal. If bones become easier to break, they also become a lot harder to heal, because not as much bone is being created to heal the fracture. The longer bones take to heal—especially hips and legs—the longer the elderly have to stay in the hospital. Longer hospital stays have been proven to show increased rates of mortality. They’re are related to increased complications while you’re in the hospital, because you’re more likely to develop more issues the longer you stay. You can even reach a point where your bones are no longer able to completely heal themselves, which causes issues with normal daily routines for the rest of your life.


How Does Osteoporosis Develop?

Osteoporosis can develop from a wide range of reasons, some of them medical (like autoimmune diseases, cancer and mental illness), and some of them from medications you take that can have bone loss as a side effect. This is why more than 10 million people have been officially diagnosed with osteoporosis. Let’s take a look at what exactly causes it to develop.  Continue reading….


New Shingles Vaccine Provides Better Protection – Savvy Living

A good friend of mine developed a bad case of shingles last year and has been urging me to get vaccinated.  Should I?

Yes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults age 50 or older be vaccinated. There is a new shingles vaccine on the market that is far superior to the older vaccine, so now is a great time to get vaccinated. Here is what you should know.

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a burning, blistering, often excruciating skin rash that affects around one million Americans each year. The same virus that causes chickenpox causes shingles. The chickenpox virus that most people get as kids never leaves the body. It hides in the nerve cells near the spinal cord and, for some people, emerges later in the form of shingles.

In the U.S., nearly one out of every three people will develop shingles during their lifetime. While anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles, it most commonly occurs in people over age 50 and people who have weakened immune systems. Note that you cannot catch shingles from someone else.

Early signs of the disease include pain, itching or tingling before a blistering rash appears several days later. The rash and symptoms can last up to four weeks. The rash typically occurs on one side of the body, often as a band of blisters that extends from the middle of your back around to the breastbone. It can also appear above an eye or on the side of the face or neck.

In addition to the rash, about 20% to 25% of those who develops shingles go on to develop severe nerve pain (postherpetic neuralgia, or PHN) that can last for months or even years. In rare cases, shingles can also cause strokes, encephalitis, spinal cord damage and vision loss.

New Shingles Vaccine

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a new vaccine for shingles called Shingrix, which provides much better protection than the older vaccine, Zostavax. Manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, Shingrix is 97% effective in preventing shingles in people 50 to 69 years old, and 91% effective in those 70 and older.

By comparison, Zostavax is 70% effective for people in their 50s; 64% effective for those in their 60s; 41% effective for people in their 70s; and 18% effective for those in their 80s.

Shingrix is also better than Zostavax in preventing nerve pain that continues after a shingles rash has cleared — about 90% effective versus 65% effective.

Because of this enhanced protection, the CDC recommends that everyone age 50 and older receive the Shingrix vaccine, which is given in two doses, two to six months apart.

Even if you have already had shingles, you still need these vaccinations because reoccurring cases are possible. The CDC also recommends that anyone previously vaccinated with Zostavax be revaccinated with Shingrix.

You should also know that Shingrix can cause some adverse side effects for some people, including muscle pain, fatigue, headache, fever and upset stomach.

Shingrix — which costs around $280 for both doses — is (or will soon be) covered by insurance, including Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. Be aware, however, that the shingles vaccines are not always well covered. So before getting vaccinated, call your provider to find out if it is covered and, if so, which pharmacies and doctors in your area you should use to ensure the best coverage.

If you do not have health insurance or are experiencing medical or financial hardship, you might qualify for GlaxoSmithKline’s Patient Assistance Program, which provides free vaccinations to those who are eligible.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of “The Savvy Living” book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization’s official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published May 11, 2018


Senior Foot Care—It’s important and can be a nice treat too!

Not only is proper Foot Care* important for Seniors, it can be a nice treat.  Family Staffing Solutions discovered Cassie Harrington and Toes on the Go.  Cassie brings her services to you!

Consider giving your loved one (and yourself too :-)) a Pedicure (or Manicure) for Mother’s Day or any day and make it part of your personal care routine.  Even if your loved one is in Hospice care, Assisted Living or a Nursing Facility, Cassie Harrington with Toes on the Go will come to your location.  You may be surprised how much you and your loved one will enjoy this.  Contact Cassie at 615-886-8755  to arrange for your foot care.  As Cassie says. “self care is a divine responsibility”.

Top Health Issues Among Seniors Resulting from Improper Foot Care*

As adults age, taking proper care of their feet can become challenging for a variety of reasons. However, the older we get, the more important foot health becomes. Seniors commonly experience poor circulation, mobility issues and changes to the foot itself, including increased dryness to skin and nails, which leave feet prone to injuries and potential infections. The good news is that most of these conditions can be prevented or treated with simple, proactive care regimens. Below are 3 of the most common foot conditions that plague seniors and tips on how they can be prevented.

1)  Ingrown toenails – many seniors suffer from ingrown toenails and infections due to improper nail trimming techniques. The best way to prevent ingrown toenails is to regularly clip and file your nails. Nails should be cut straight across without curving on the edges. The speed of natural nail growth varies, but this routine should typically be completed every 3-4 weeks to lessen the risk of having toenails break, crack or become ingrown.

2)  Corns & calluses – these sores are not only painful and unsightly, but they can become dangerous, especially for seniors with diabetes or other circulation issues.

3)  Foot ulcers – diabetics who can’t properly take care of their feet due to neuropathy or mobility issues risk serious problems that can lead to amputation if left untreated. Untended cuts, fungus and dry cracked feet can eventually become infected and lead to foot ulcers.  Don’t ignore any foot pain or signs of infection. If you are diabetic, schedule routine check-ups annually to ensure you maintain foot health.

The best thing you can do to ensure your feet stay healthy and avoid these three issues is to check them daily. Make sure you wash them every day with warm water but keep them dry throughout the day by wearing soft, absorbent socks. It’s also important to keep your feet moisturized but avoid applying lotion between toes since trapped moisture can increase the risk of fungal infection. If you have a sore or pain that doesn’t go away, promptly contact a medical professional. When it comes to your feet, it’s always better be proactive rather than reactive with care regimens.

*Source:  Senior




Simple Home Modifications for Seniors Living at Home – Savvy Living


My 76-year-old mother wants to stay living in her own home for as long as possible but she doesn’t have the money for big renovations.

What tips or recommendations do you have to help make a home safer for seniors who want to remain living at home?



There are dozens of small adjustments and simple modifications to help make your mom’s home safer for little to no cost. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

  • Eliminate Trip and Slip Hazards

Since falls are the leading cause of home injury among seniors, a good place to start is by arranging or moving your mom’s furniture to create clear walking pathways throughout her home. Position any electrical and phone cords along the wall so they will not be tripping hazards. If she has throw rugs, remove them or use carpet tacks or double-sided tape to secure them. Don’t forget to pick up items on the floor that could cause her to trip, like papers, shoes or clothes.

In the bathroom, buy some non-skid rugs for the floors and a rubber mat or adhesive nonslip strips for the floor of the tub or shower. Also consider hiring a carpenter to install grab bars in and around the tub/shower and near the toilet for support.

  • Improve Lighting

Good lighting is a very important safety consideration. As such, make sure to check the wattage ratings on your mom’s lamps and light fixtures and install the brightest bulbs allowed. Purchase some nightlights for bathrooms and hallways that are used after dark. Also consider adding under-cabinet task lighting in the kitchen and motion sensor lights outside near her driveway and by the home’s front and back doors.

  • Hand Helpers

If your mom has hand arthritis or problems gripping, install lever-style door handles or doorknob lever adapters, which are easier to use than traditional doorknobs. If her kitchen and bathroom faucets have twist knobs, consider replacing them with single lever, touch or sensor-style faucets. Also consider replacing knobs on cabinets and drawers with easier to grip D-shaped handles.

  • Easier Living

To help make your mom’s kitchen easier to use, organize her cabinets so the things she uses most often are within reach and at eye-level so that she does not need to crouch down or use a step-stool. Also, consider installing pull-out shelves beneath the counter and Lazy Susans in corner cabinets for easier access.

For easier and safer bathing, consider purchasing a shower chair and install a hand-held shower so your mom can bathe from a seated position, if necessary.

  • Accessibility Solutions

If your mom uses a walker or wheelchair, you can modify her house by installing ramps on entrance steps and mini-ramps to go over high thresholds. You can also install “swing-away” or “swing-clear” hinges on her doors to add two inches of width for easier access.

  • Safety Improvements

To keep your mom safe, set her hot water heater no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit in order to prevent scalding water. If she has stairs, put handrails on both sides. Also, install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on all levels of her house and place a lightweight, easy-to-use ABC-rated fire extinguisher in an easily accessible location in the kitchen.

For more tips, obtain a copy of AARP’s “HomeFit Guide,” which is filled with great recommendations. You can access it at or call 888-687-2277 and request a free copy by mail.

Also note that all the previously mentioned products can be purchased either in local retail stores, home improvement stores, pharmacies, medical supply stores or online.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of “The Savvy Living” book.

Halloween Safety Tips for the Elderly


For most of us Halloween holds childhood memories of dressing up,  carving pumpkins and going door to door for candy and treats. And for many of our Elderly population this memory expands to giving out candy and treats to the costumed children at their door. However for some  with Dementia and/or Physical limitations; Halloween may hold negative feelings and fear that can contribute to negative behaviors leading up to and on Halloween itself.  In addition the security and safety factor of having strangers coming to the door in the twilight and evening hours is not conducive to a safe environment for elderly living alone. Keeping our elderly population as safe as possible on Halloween while still enjoying the holiday in their own way can be possible with a few considerations and interventions. To continue enjoying life safely is the goal!

My mother was one of those treat givers that the children loved to visit. She enjoyed watching the little faces and would open her door to anyone, even long into the late hours. Without going further you can imagine what real risks there are for an elderly woman alone opening her door up at night to total strangers. For my mother,  the joy of giving out candy continued when she live in a secure community where children were invited, safety measures were followed and the doors were locked and staff protected her into the night. She continued to enjoy Halloween without previous risks.

On Halloween there can be an increase of safety and security concerns for elderly who live alone, and especially those with Dementia and/or Physical limitations. Contributing factors may include; decorations, falling leaves, wet pavements, decreased daylight hours, change in weather conditions,  and more. Some of these risks can be avoided or minimized by carefully considering what adjustments can be made. This is by no means an exhaustive or complete approach to safety or recommendations, but instead just a few considerations as you prepare for Halloween with an Elderly person.

Halloween Safety Tips for the Elderly

  • Keep all floors, entry ways and porches free of decorations.
  • Add night lights to hallways, walkways and rooms, and keep well lit.
  • Avoid window decorations that block light or view of front entry.
  • Use only safe pumpkin carving tools,  light pumpkin with flame-less votive.
  • Place carved pumpkins outside to keep decaying smell and bugs outside.
  • Spend the evening with them, be available to help answer door, keep them safe.
  • When done with candy, or at dusk: Put sign on door, “Sorry No More Candy”.
  • There is debate on turning off porch light, which can increase security risk.

Don’t leave an elderly person with Dementia or physical limitations home alone on Halloween…

  • Take them to a community event or family home, and return home after dusk.
  • Send a companion or professional to be with them from 4:00-10:00 or overnight.
  • Help them answer door and hand out candy if they wish.
  • Put out sign when done “Sorry No More Candy”.
  • Watch movie or listen to music in another room away from front door if possible.
  • Be prepared; books, albums, crafts, favorite foods, etc. to enjoy and distract.
  • Follow dietary instructions; avoid over indulgence of chocolate or sugar.

Remember Halloween may not be a happy time for elderly with Dementia and may be scary, or create added stimulation from doorbell, knocks, noise outside. Be sensitive to what they can tolerate and do your best to keep them safe and enjoy the evening with you.

By; Pati Rader, CSA
Certified Senior Advisor®
Life Enrichment Specialist


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