Don’t Be a Victim: Protect Yourself From Home Invasion

Home SecurityBy Amanda Benjamin

The thought of being the victim of a home invasion is upsetting, to say the least. While a crook breaks into your home when it’s empty, a home invader enters when you’re still there. A home invasion is far more traumatic than a burglary, and it can happen to any home in any neighborhood whenever.

However, there are a number of ways to protect yourself from a home invasion, both before it happens and if you find yourself the victim of being one. Here are some of the ways you can personally protect yourself:

Financial Precautions

  • Avoid ostentatious displays of luxury possessions like expensive cars, electronics, furs, jewelry, art or designer clothing.
  • Keep any cash, gold, silver and expensive jewelry in a deposit box at a bank — or very well hidden, in the home.
  • Consider installing a floor safe somewhere in your home.  Read More …

Slip Proofing Your Home

Jack and Jill, a Mother Goose nursery rhymeBy Brian Schiller

Here are just a few of the statistics:

  • Each year in the United States, one of every three persons over the age of 65 will experience a fall. Half of which are repeat fallers.
  • For people aged 65-84 years, falls are the second leading cause of injury-related death; for those aged 85 years or older, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death.
  • Falls account for 87% of all fractures among people over the age of 65 and are the second leading cause of spinal cord and brain injury.
  • Half of all elderly adults (over the age of 65) hospitalized for hip fractures cannot return home or live independently after the fracture.

Elderly people face an increased risk of slips, trips and falls due to diminished mobility, strength and balance that comes naturally with old age.  The increased risk of falling is coupled with a higher likelihood of health complications related to the fall. An elderly person faces twice the chance of death due to falls than younger people according to the Centers for Disease Control. Read More …

Brianna’s Smart House

I just returned from CES 2013, the big consumer electronics show, where I learned about the latest in health & wellness technologies and home automation products that can serve seniors and the disabled and support aging in place, when I saw this story on KCBD News Channel 11. They’ve been following the story of Brianna Graves, an active little girl who was diagnosed at age 9 with Gorham’s Disease, also known as “Vanishing Bone Disease.” Instead of focusing on what Brianna cannot do anymore, this story looks at what she can do from now on.

It’s a heart warming story of how technology and universal design concepts can make life easier – in this case for a young girl with some severe physical limitations.

Brianna controls her environment by moving her lip, as a computer monitors the movement. But just imagine what she’ll soon be able to do with the brain sensing technologies that I saw at CES. I’m excited about the pace of tech innovation and the positive impact on medicine, health care, and wellness. And I’d like to hear your stories of how technology has helped you or a loved one.

Sensor Network to Protect the Elderly

Marge Skubic

Marge Skubic developed a remote sensor network to monitor seniors’ activity and baseline health. Click image for credits and larger version

System monitors seniors’ health in the comfort of their own homes

By Marlene Cimons, National Science Foundation, December 6, 2012

Many elderly dread the prospect that chronic medical issues will force them to leave their homes for an assisted living facility or nursing home, making them dependent upon others for their care and personal needs. Sometime in the near future, however, new technology could help them remain in their homes longer, perhaps indefinitely, without having to give up their independence.

“Our goal is to keep people in their private homes for as long as possible,” says Marjorie Skubic, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Missouri. “The idea is to detect functional decline or early signs of illness, so we can identify problems when they are very small and proactively address them before they become catastrophic. That way, mom won’t have to leave her home.” Read More …

Smart Car Features for Older Drivers

Nearly Nine in 10 Seniors Drive a Car that Doesn’t Fit their Aging Needs

AAA research helps “silver tsunami” match vehicle features to health concerns

Click to read about the future of driverless cars.

This photo by Henry Fountain pictures one of Google’s fleet of self-driving vehicles. The Lexus hybrid has a range-finder on top but otherwise looks reasonably conventional. We may eventually be able to buy cars that drive themselves (see comment below), and three states already license experimental models for operation on public roads, but until they’re commercially available, AAA offers advice on selecting car features for older drivers.

Washington, D.C., (Dec. 3, 2012) – With nearly 90 percent of motorists 65 and older suffering from health issues that affect driving safety, finding a car that not only adapts to conditions, such as lack of flexibility or muscle strength, while maintaining safety and comfort can be difficult. Data from a new AAA survey also reveals that only one in 10 senior drivers with aging health issues are driving a vehicle that has features like keyless entry and larger dashboard controls that can assist with such conditions.

To better equip the “silver tsunami” for driving safety and comfort, AAA has updated its Smart Features for Older Drivers resource to address a broader range of health conditions and include new data on 2012 vehicle features. As a leading advocate for senior driver safety, AAA launched Smart Features for Older Drivers in partnership with the University of Florida’s Institute for Mobility, Activity and Participation in 2008. In the update, Smart Features identifies vehicle features that optimize older driver safety and comfort, lists current vehicles with those features, and allows users to explore their individual needs through an interactive online tool.  Read More …

Before I die… Or before they do…

Before I die, from Candy Chang's TED talkToday I republish most of the content of a Huffington Post article that June Cohen wrote as part of TEDWeekends, a curated program about powerful “ideas worth spreading” each weekend.

The days between Thanksgiving and the New Year are always a time for reflection: On what’s been accomplished, on what remains ahead of us, and – most importantly – what matters most to you.

TED Fellow Candy Chang creates public art installations that explore the hidden landscape of near-death choices. Her work asks the audience, chalkboard-style, to fill in the blanks: “Before I die, I want to ________________.” Their answers have been, in turn: hilarious, heart-breaking, raw, real.

Read More …

How to Avoid Contractor Scams

If you or someone you know was effected by storm damage, please share this article. It offers advice for hiring a contractor that I submitted in August in response to an eLocal poll on this topic, and it’s based on my experience as communications director for a nonprofit homeowner advocacy organization that I co-founded. UPDATE: New advice links added (11/1/2012 )

Wayne Caswell, Modern Health Talk, wins eLocal's Most Articulate Award

Hurricane Sandy slammed into the northeast this week and did lots of damage to homes, so if you need repairs, this article is about how to avoid potential scams.

 Avoid “storm chasers,” those unscrupulous contractors that show up after disasters to prey on people in a hurry to fix their homes. You can recognize them by the magnet signs on their trucks and their temporary offices and phone numbers, and you may also notice yard signs popping up everywhere to promote their services.

Read More …

Senior Living Options & Costs Infographic

As seniors age, they may need help with daily tasks. Helping them decide on appropriate living arrangements is critical to staying safe and healthy. Investing in home modifications and some sort of medical alert system is a cost effective way for seniors to feel safe and secure while living an independent lifestyle, as this infographic suggests. Read More …

Universal Design Makes Home Accessible

Houzz Tour, by rom architecture studioThis Houzz home tour is about beautiful design that also addresses the mobility needs of all the family members — two of whom are wheelchair users. It offers more space for wheelchairs, easier access to appliances and a curbless shower that fits this Seattle family’s needs.

Karen Braitmayer and her husband needed more square footage and were resigned to building a second story before connecting with an architect who understood structural modifications and was able to provide more livability and accessibility in the same 1,830 sq.ft. footprint. The architect knew that “Adding a second story would have ruined the architectural character of the home and required multiple elevator trips a day.”

Read More …

Independent for Life

Book cover: Independent for Life: Homes and Neighborhoods for an Aging America

order online at University of Texas Press

 

From INDEPENDENT FOR LIFE: HOMES AND NEIGHBORHOODS FOR AN AGING AMERICA
edited by Henry Cisneros, Margaret Dyer-Chamberlain, and Jane Hickie, forward by John W. Rowe,
Copyright © 2012. Courtesy of the University of Texas Press.

 

Do you want to age independently in your own home and neighborhood? Staying home, aging in place, is most people’s preference, but most American housing and communities are not adapted to the needs of older people. And with the fastest population growth among people over 65, finding solutions for successful aging is important not only for individual families, but for our whole society. In Independent for Life, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros and a team of experts on aging, architecture, construction, health, finance, and politics assess the current state of housing and present new possibilities that realistically address the interrelated issues of housing, communities, services, and financial concerns.

Read More …

What’s new in Smart Home technology?

Smart HouseBy Alex Lane (original article: What is a Smart Home? Samsung’s NaviBot S can clean the low places)

The original Smart Home device has to be the Teasmade, and the textbooks say that a smart home is one that uses home networking technology and your internet connection to automate and simplify everyday living.

It’s the use of networking and broadband connections that takes smart home technology beyond simple home automation, where each device usually stands alone, with its own control system.

Smart home tech is a fast-growing field, from cleaning your house to opening the curtains and switching on the lights. There’s also a growing field of utility and power management, for your gas, water and electricity [and for home health care]. Surrounding them all are unified networking and control systems that can control and monitor all of your devices, not just one for each.

Read More …

How to Avoid Contractor Scams

Modern Health Talk is recognized this month for submitting the most articulate response to an eLocal.com poll on How to Avoid Scams after a Storm, which also applies to home remodeling and modifications for aging in place too.

Wayne Caswell, Modern Health Talk, wins eLocal's Most Articulate Award

We’re into Hurricane season, and Isaac just slammed into New Orleans, so this reminder about potential scams is timely, especially since local laws often favor builders, remodelers and contractors rather than homeowners (at least in Texas). Here’s some advice when hiring a contractor to fix your home or replace your roof.

 Avoid “storm chasers,” those unscrupulous Read More …

U.S. Should Make ‘Life-Long Homes’ A Priority

U.S. Should Make ‘Life-Long Homes’ A Priority – Henry Cisneros

Henry CisnerosBy Judith Graham (original article at Kaiser Health News)

What will it take for Americans to age successfully in place? This question has immediate importance for policymakers and families as an estimated 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 years old every day. It’s the subject of a new book, “Independent for Life: Homes and Neighborhoods for an Aging America,” authored by more than a dozen leading aging and housing experts and co-edited by Henry Cisneros, a four-term mayor of San Antonio and former secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Cisneros, who now runs a company specializing in urban real estate, spent an hour discussing his thoughts about aging in place with reporter Judith Graham. That interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q. You start this book talking about your elderly mother.  Tell me about her.

A. My mom and dad bought the home across the alley from her mother’s home in 1945.  It was a lower-middle-class neighborhood of civil service workers — all Latinos. It had the feeling of a Norman Rockwell picture, only all the faces were brown.

My dad passed away in 2006 at age 89, having had a stroke some years before. But my mom, 87, lives there still. The house is essentially the same as it was, with some adjustments. We put a ramp on the side of the house leading to a deck. We raised the toilet, lowered the sinks, created a walk-in shower.  Changed the lighting in the den so my dad could read. Put in window guards, an alarm, and outdoor lighting for my mom because the neighborhood is somewhat in decline. Read More …

Singing in the Shower – More than Accessibility

A great hand-held shower unit hits the right note in any bathroom.

EDITOR: Last September I posted an article about the Universal Design Living Laboratory. Well now the home is finished and its occupants have moved in, so there’s more to write about, including universal bath & kitchen designs and landscaping. You’ll understand later why I so look forward to the article on landscaping.

Singing in the Shower

The shower is something most of us use every day, and it can be a bit challenging when living in a wheelchair. The right handshower can make getting clean an easier and more enjoyable experience.

Read More …

Universal Design: Homes That Work for Everyone

These photos showing Universal Design principles were posted on houzz.com by Kerrie Kelly, a ASID, MBA, and CAPS certified interior designer, certified aging-in-place specialist, author, and thought leader. She collaborates with publishers, manufacturers, homeowners and builders to inspire beauty and simplicity because…Everyone Deserves Great Design. TM Kelly authored “Home Décor, a Sunset Design Guide” published by Oxmoor House. The book was released in September 2009 and is still a defining guide to all styles of home décor. Visit Kerrie at http://www.kerriekelly.com and http://www.kerrielkelly.blogspot.com.

Houzz.com — When looking for home modification ideas, search through the photos & portfolios of leading Interior Design professionals for key words such as Kitchen, Bath, Stair Ramp, Stair Lift, Home Elevator, Universal Design, and Aging-in-Place.

Houzz Tour: Universal Design in San Francisco Home

For general contractor Jeff Kann, universal design goes beyond outfitting the space for wheelchairs. It’s about letting people participate in family and community life for much, much longer. Sound universal design avoids premature moves and creates sustainable and safer spaces, she says: “It’s about making the living spaces easier and safer for all ages.”

This remodel was conceived to create a comfortable and expanded living space on the first level of a two-story home in San Francisco’s Sunset district, creating an option to avoid the use of stairs entirely as the clients grow older. In the meantime, the homeowners can use the renovated first level now as a guest suite for visiting family and friends.

Houzz.com — When looking for home modification ideas, search through the photos & portfolios of leading Interior Design professionals for key words such as Kitchen, Bath, Stair Ramp, Stair Lift, Home Elevator, Universal Design, and Aging-in-Place.

Will Healthcare Lead The Future of Smart Homes?

As a technologist, futurist, mHealth advocate, and past Home Systems consultant, I’m a fan of embedded technologies that make products smarter and easier to use, especially those that improve healthcare, but I side with “Smart Home” skeptics and add my own comments after this press release. – Wayne Caswell, mHealthTalk editor

The Future of Smart Systems

By 2020, experts think tech-enhanced homes, appliances, and utilities will spread, but many of the analysts believe we still won’t likely be living in the long-envisioned ‘Homes of the Future’

Imaging the Internet, a market research reportJune 29, 2012 — Hundreds of tech analysts foresee a future with “smart” devices and environments that make people’s lives more efficient.

But they also note that current evidence about the uptake of smart systems is that the costs and necessary infrastructure changes to make it all work are daunting. And they add that people find comfort in the familiar, simple, “dumb” systems to which they are accustomed.

Some 1,021 Internet experts, researchers, observers, and critics were asked about the “home of the future” in an online, opt-in survey. The result was a fairly even split between those who agreed that energy- and money-saving “smart systems” will be significantly closer to reality in people’s homes by 2020 and those who said such homes will still remain a marketing mirage. Read More …

Home Elevators: A Rising Trend

One of the nicest things my grandfather did for my grandmother was to have a home elevator installed. They lived in a two-story home with the main living area and bedrooms on the upper floor. My grandmother had become frail enough that getting upstairs from their main entrance on the ground level was a daunting task. My grandparents were not wealthy people, and their home was not large — maybe 1,800 square feet. But my grandfather knew how much she wanted to stay in her home, so he put one in. Now that’s love!

Pangaea Interior Design shows examples of the various types of home elevators and discusses their benefits.

 

Houzz.com — When looking for home modification ideas, search through the photos & portfolios of leading Interior Design professionals for key words such as Kitchen, Bath, Stair Ramp, Stair Lift, Home Elevator, Universal Design, and Aging-in-Place.

CAPABLE means Home, not Nursing Homes, for Seniors

Source: Newswise (6/26/2012) — Nursing homes do not have to be inevitable destinations for frail older adults. Many—even those with long-term health problems—can remain at home and be independent. All it takes is a little help to change “disability” to “capability”.

A handyman with a few nails to fix a wobbly bannister can make the difference between staying at home and a nursing home stay. Visits from a nurse or occupational therapist can help simplify a bewildering medication regimen or improve the ability to get around the house and neighborhood. Simple, inexpensive steps may change the equation for thousands of seniors, but in reality, services like these are rarely available for many at greatest need—the poorest and sickest older adults receiving Medicare and Medicaid.

CAPABLE, short for “Community Aging in Place, Advancing Better Living for Elders,” and a $4 million Health Care Innovation Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is about to change that reality. Read More …

Doorless Showers Open a World of Possibilities

I’ll never forget my first experience with an open shower. On a French-class trip to Paris at the innocent age of 14, I arrived at my hotel tired, jet-lagged and longing for a good, hot soak. I pushed open the bathroom door and looked around, flummoxed. Where on earth was the bathtub? Then I glanced up and gaped: I was standing in the shower, which was just a handheld faucet and a grate in the floor — no tub, no door, no curtain, no threshold. The entire time I was there, I never mastered the art of soaping up and rinsing off without drenching the whole room.

It turns out, the French were onto something. Doorless showers have become a design darling in recent years. Not only do they create an open, expansive feel in a bathroom, but they also lend themselves well to universal design and aging in place. And while they’re a little more sophisticated now than my Parisian puzzler, they still require careful planning. Lisa Frederick shows us eight things to consider if you’re thinking about the doorless approach. (from houzz.com)

Houzz.com — When looking for home modification ideas, search through the photos & portfolios of leading Interior Design professionals for key words such as Kitchen, Bath, Stair Ramp, Stair Lift, Home Elevator, Universal Design, and Aging-in-Place.