Happy Thanksgiving from SeniorHomes.com

Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, from the SeniorHomes.com family to yours! Safe travels to all who are traveling over the next few days to make memories with family and friends near and far.

Happy Thanksgiving


Must-Have Apps for the Professional Senior Woman

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is written by Arar Han, co-CEO (along with Shayne Fitz-Coy) at Alert-1.

Whether you’ve owned your own business or have been a loyal employee for years, it’s natural for women to want to step back and enjoy their golden years, even if they’re not quite ready to entirely put their career out to pasture. For many, that means putting in limited hours from home.

Being an independent manager of your home and life can be quite a chore, especially if you are accustomed to working on a team. Fortunately, our smartphones have evolved into capable assistants—if you know which apps are worth your time.

Here are my must-have Apple and Android apps for keeping my personal and professional lives in working order:

Managing your finances: Mint (iOS & Android)Woman with Smartphone

Maintaining a budget is time-consuming and tedious without the right infrastructure. If you’re no longer working with a bookkeeper, Mint is an app that makes taking over your own financial record keeping easy. It automatically tracks your spending and organizes it into categories. The colorful charts help you understand where your money is going. Mint helps you keep your budget on track with email and mobile alerts, free advice and bill reminders. With a reduced income as you begin to live off of retirement savings, tracking your expenditures is more important than ever before.

Exercising: The Official Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout (iOS & Android)

The older we get, the harder it is to motivate ourselves to exercise, it seems. Do you have trouble making time for physical activity? That won’t be a problem with this streamlined app from Johnson & Johnson, giving you custom workouts that, despite its name, can be anywhere from seven to 21 minutes.  Music pumps to motivate you, and your personal trainer shows you how to do the movements correctly. The app gauges your fitness and motivation levels for a personalized experience, and it makes it easy to see your progress. Best of all, you don’t even have to leave the house.

Decorating: Snapshop (iOS)

Have you been putting off the revamp of your home’s décor that you’ve wanted?

Now that you’re spending a lot of time at home, you want your space to inspire you. This app lets you visualize how that couch you’re eyeing will actually look in your home before you buy it! Once you’ve found a piece you love, just hold up your phone and drop it into your room. You can rotate them, position them and even change their color. Warning: This app can be hugely addictive.

Cooking: Yummly (iOS)

Ensure that your grandkids can’t wait to visit by always having delicious treats on hand when they arrive. Yummly is the best way to find the perfect recipe.  You can search Yummly by ingredient and taste preferences and it will give you personalized recommendations. It can even recommend recipes based on their preparation time, difficulty, nutritional value and suitability for diets and allergies.

Don’t want to find a recipe only to not have all of the ingredients? Just tell Yummly what you have in your pantry and fridge, and it will give you recipes that use the ingredients you already have. It’s perfect for the days when you want a healthy home-cooked meal but can’t get out the door to go shopping. Plus, when you are able to make a shopping trip, Yummly will keep track of what you need.

Chores: Home Routines (iOS)

Even if you’ve already led a second career as a mother and homemaker, that doesn’t make keeping up with cleaning any easier. Home Routines is the best way to keep track of chores and tasks that need regular attending to. The app organizes your tasks into day of the week, time and area of your house, and can remind you when it’s time to get down to business. When you finish a task you get a star, and the app keeps track of your accomplishments so you can look back and celebrate how much you got done that day. A built-in timer helps you manage your time, and “Focus Zones” break your home into manageable chunks so you can focus on a specific area.

Games & brain training: Luminosity (iOS & Android)

Exercising an aging mind can be just as essential as physical workouts. Want to read better, react quicker, and remember people’s names—all while having fun? Luminosity combines brain training with fun games that are anything but mindless. If you love quick, yet challenging puzzles, Luminosity is for you. Keep your mind sharp and fresh for the long haul!

To-do lists and note-taking: Awesome Note (iOS & Android)

Are you always losing your handwritten to-do lists, or creating multiple lists that never get completed? Awesome Note is the perfect way to keep track of your tasks and your thoughts. Write tasks on your to-do list and either give them due dates or set them to repeat automatically. You can organize your tasks any way you could want, including by date modified, date created, due date and priority. You can view them as a list for the day or on a calendar to plan ahead.


Now that you’re spending more time than ever at home, these apps can help you simplify and streamline your life. They are both a pleasure to use and leave you more time to enjoy the things you love. Why not have a personal assistant, trainer, designer, accountant and chef all in the palm of your hand?

Arar Han is co-CEO of Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm headquartered in Williamsport, Penn., with offices nationwide. A Certified Aging in Place Specialist, Arar holds a dual degree in Philosophy and Human Development from Boston College, summa cum laude, and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Originally from Seoul, she currently lives in Palo Alto, Calif., with her family.


Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes from the SeniorHomes.com Team

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for all the things we enjoy in life, be it family, good health, prosperity, good friends, and all the little things to appreciate in our lives. Many families have traditional gatherings where they enjoy a feast prepared by family and friends, and certain dishes become traditions in their own right, evoking pleasant memories from childhood family celebrations.

We asked our team to share their favorite Thanksgiving recipes made by their parents or grandparents. Here’s a sampling of what delights team SeniorHomes.com’s taste buds every Thanksgiving. Here’s what they had to say. Unless otherwise noted, all images are via AllRecipes.com, and be sure to check out the links for a top-rated recipe for each of these delicious dishes.

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry Sauce: It is just sugar, water, and fresh cranberries boiled in a pot. But, the warm tangy sweet taste reminds me of my mother at Thanksgiving.” Owen, SEM Manager

Stuffing (made by Grandma, of course)


“Grandma’s stuffing. Because I grew up vegetarian. it was always the favorite part of the meal for me. Savory and moist, it was laden with onions, butter, celery, mushrooms, a heavy dose of sage and a few eggs egg to bind her homemade dried bread together. I could take or leave the rest of the thanksgiving meal (except for the pumpkin and apple pies), but the pan(s) of stuffing were mine.”

Sue, Care Advisor/Production Assistant

Twice-Baked Potatoes

 Twice-Baked Potatoes

“Dad’s Twice Baked Potatoes: Baked potatoes scooped out of the skin, bacon, butter, cheese, chives and a mystery concoction of seasoning all mixed together, put back in the skins and cooked a 2nd time in the oven. A dish so incredibly loaded with fat and deliciousness is best enjoyed with loved ones, and has been an integral part of Thanksgiving tradition for me for as long as I can remember.”

Stuart, Project Manager

Oyster Stuffing

Oyster Stuffing

“My favorite Thanksgiving dish as a kid was Oyster stuffing. This is a twist on the typical Thanksgiving stuffing, by adding a load of oysters. Rich and yummy.”

Chris Rodde, CEO

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

“My favorite dish is sweet potatoes with marshmallows (aka Yams) – My mother is the best cook in the whole world. She uses sweet potatoes, cinnamon, brown sugar, vanilla, a ton of butter, a touch of lemon and of course marshmallows. I look forward to Thanksgiving every year so I can enjoy yams. It is sweet and delicious!”

Mamie, Care Advisor

“Sweet potatoes – baked and peeled, mixed with orange juice and brown sugar, whipped in a casserole dish topped with marshmallows (toasted) on the top! Yum!!!”

Robin, Senior Account Executive

Kolaches – Apricot Prune Filling Wrapped in Pastries


“I am going with My Grandmothers ‘Kolaches‘ an apricot prune filling wrapped in pastry….oohhhh so good!”

Darcy, Care Advisor (image provided by Darcy)

Bourbon Cranberry Compote

Cranberry Compote

Bourbon (or Brandy) Cranberry Compote. Cranberries, sugar, apple juice, with bourbon or brandy. All cooked down. Delicious.”

Madeline, Care Advisor (image via RealSimple)

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

Broccoli Cheese Casserole – frozen broccoli, velveeta cheese and white rice. Not only was it delicious on Thanksgiving day, but it was the best leftover as a dip with tortilla chips! My Mom always made an extra batch just for leftovers.”

Sarah Schnierer, Account Manager

Turkey Stuffing (another Grandma favorite)

Turkey Stuffing

“Grandma Rosie’s turkey dressing.”

Michaela, Bookkeeper

Garlic Smashed Potatoes

Garlic Smashed PotatoesGarlic Smashed Potatoes.”

Brett Davis, Care Advisor

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish? Share with us in the comments!

Who Are You Shopping For on Black Friday?

Who are you most likely to buy for on Black Friday? Are you treating yourself to something nice (and well-deserved), or buying for your children or grandchildren?

Who are you shopping for on Black Friday?

Read more about the holidays, making memories, and easing holiday stress for caregivers and aging parents by checking out these articles:

Technology Gifts to Simplify Life for Your Aging Loved One (or Make It More Fun)

In an interview with Jon Stein, a Forbes Contributor, technology journalist Lary Magid makes a strong statement about baby boomers and technology: “It’s stupid and insulting to pitch baby boomers as tech novices.” His statement was prompted by an email he received from a PR rep pushing a touch screen computer for older people who want to “get on board with technology.” As Magid points out, “Many of us used CP/M, DOS or even Unix long before Macs and PCs had graphical user interfaces. We were the ones who had to know how to use escape codes to get our printers to work and sometimes wound up building our own PCs.”

Boomers and seniors are more tech-savvy than you may think

So, where has the idea come from that baby boomers and older Americans are not astute in their technology use? In the Stein article, Patricia McDonough, senior VP-analysis at Nielsen Co., says, “It’s actually a myth that baby boomers aren’t into technology. They represent 25% of the population, but they consume 40% [in total dollars spent] of it.” In fact, the numbers from an April report from the PewResearch Internet Project reveal that 59% of seniors report they go online. Additionally, 77% of older adults have a cell phone (18% own a smartphone), and 27% of seniors own a tablet, an e-book reader, or both. The statistics definitely support the notion that baby boomers and older Americans are using, and enjoying, technology. The myth, more than likely, is due to the fact that usage rates among seniors trail those of the overall population: 86% of all U.S. adults now go online.

Most seniors are on the Internet daily

The report also points out that once U.S. adults age 65 and older do make the online jump, 71% go online every day or almost every day, and 11% go online 3-5 times per week. Furthermore, older internet users have very positive attitudes about how online information benefits them: 79% of older internet users agree that “people without internet access are at a real disadvantage because of all the information they might be missing,” and 94% agree that “the internet makes it much easier to find information today than in the past.” Overall, the statistics support the ideas that seniors can and do use technology and that they see the benefits of doing so. With seniors embracing and enjoying technology this much, and with shopping “holidays” like Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner, it makes sense for you to give them the gift of technology. 

Smart phones, tablets, and e-readers

According to a report, eight of the world’s 10 best-selling smart phones are made by Apple or Samsung. Apple’s iPhone 5s was the hottest selling phone, beating out the Samsung S5 and S4. The ranking was based on smartphone sales from 35 countries. With their popularity and widespread use, these smart phones would make great gifts for your aging loved ones. Plus, the phones store contact information, pictures, videos, and more, to keep your loved ones connected with the entire family. Loved ones also can take advantage of all of the mobile apps available for the phones – everything from medication management apps to physical activity trackers to games are ready and waiting for them in the App Store and on Google Play.

Tablets are another great tech gift idea for your aging loved one. An International Business Times article summarized Gartner’s data on 2013 tablet sales, which revealed that tablet sales grew 68% from 2012 to 2013. Apple’s iPads remain the most popular individual tablet, with 36% of the market; Samsung’s Galaxy Tablets come in second with 19% of the total sales. For older Americans, the Apple iPad mini is a great choice, because it is smaller, lighter, and more affordable than the standard iPad. The iPad mini comes loaded with built-in apps to get your loved ones started on the internet, with email, photos, iBooks, maps, FaceTime, contacts, and more.

As for e-readers, CNET ranked the best of the best, and the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2013) came out on top. Calling it the “best e-reader currently available,” CNET explains that Amazon improved the Paperwhite with a faster processor, more responsive touch screen, and a better integrated light that’s brighter and whiter and displays more evenly across the screen. These are just a few of the reasons that make Paperwhite the best choice for your aging loved one. Plus, the benefits that come from the improvements mean that seniors can read anywhere – even outside – without any screen glare and without eyestrain.

Technology Gifts for the Home

Technology is more than just about smart phones, tablets, and e-readers. So, when you are starting to think about your holiday gift lists for this upcoming season, consider the tech gifts that can make life for your older loved one more simple and maybe even more fun, while at home.

Lutron’s Maestro Occupancy/Vacancy Sensors are a gift that keep on giving because they turn lights off when you leave, helping your loved one to save energy. Better yet, they turn on when someone enters a room, so your aging loved one does not have to worry about coming home to a dark house or fumbling for the light switch in the middle of the night. Saftey, security, and convenience are all a part of the Lutron sensors.

Control4 provides home automation and smart home control, and their solutions integrate with iPads, iPhones, and Android smartphones and tablets. Control4 allows you to begin with one room or automate your whole home all at once. Some of the options included with Control4′s solutions are perfect for your aging loved one. A “wake up” scene automatically adjusts the thermostat and gradually turns up lights each morning, and the “goodbye” button will lock the doors, set the alarm system, turn off the lights, and adjust the thermostat when people leave. Your loved one won’t have to worry about controlling much of anything in the home, and if your loved one is preparing to age in place, Control4 can alert you to movement in the home or even if there is a water leak. Control4 is a great gift of convenience for your loved one, and it provides you with the gift of peace of mind.

The Nest Protect Smoke Detector is a smoke and carbon-monoxide detector that is a great choice for older family members. Rather than setting off an ear-piercing or high-pitched alarm, Nest Protect first alerts you to the problem by telling you what it is and where it is. Protect also takes the guesswork out of when to change the batteries in the smoke detector; thanks to its Nightly Promise, Protect’s light ring will quickly glow green to show the batteries are working, or it will glow yellow if there is a problem like the batteries need replacing. Best of all, Nest Protect will send messages to smart phones or tablets if there is a problem, or you can open the Nest app at any time, so you and your loved one can have peace of mind.

Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth speaker is a perfect gift idea for anyone, but it’s an especially good choice for seniors. Bose already is a popular choice for speakers among older adults, but now Bose has entered the high-tech world with its SoundLink Mini. It wirelessly connects to smartphones, tablets, or other Bluetooth devices, and it weighs in at 1.5 pounds so it is easy to take anywhere. Your aging loved one will be able to listen to their favorite music anywhere, any time, and because it is a Bose, the SoundLink Mini delivers advanced audio with full-range sound. Its simple, compact design is ideal for your aging loved one – after you’ve gotten them that smartphone or tablet, of course.

The Best Technology Gift for Fun

For years, researchers and doctors have been touting the benefits of playing games and remaining mentally sharp for seniors to stave off the mental decline often associated with aging. But, one newer form of gaming for seniors is becoming more popular and more widely prescribed by health care providers: video gaming. In an overview of the benefits of playing video games, The Economist describes a study conducted by Dr. Adam Gazzaley of the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Gazzaley tested a group of participants aged 60 to 85 and found that, upon playing a video game at home in an adaptive mode for three hours a week over a month, they had greatly improved multi-tasking abilities and other improved aspects of cognition, including working memory. Even more astounding was the fact that even after a six-month hiatus from the video games, the participants were “still nimble-minded.”

So, which video games are the best for seniors? Diana Rodriguez explains in her article that one study, presented at the Gerontological Society of America’s Annual Scientific Meeting, found that seniors who played Nintendo Wii for an hour a week reported higher positive mood and fewer feelings of loneliness than seniors who watched television. In addition, a study done at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, reported that “1/3 of participants who played an exercise game on the Wii reported a 50% or greater reduction in depressive symptoms.”

As if the scientific evidence weren’t enough, Wii mini is a great gift idea for your aging loved ones because seniors who have played Wii games love them. In a Chicago Tribune article describing the fun seniors have while playing a Wii, reporter Geoff Ziezulewicz found seniors at Bolingbrook’s Heritage Woods assisted living community are hooked on Wii bowling. The seniors found that the Wii was easy to use and got people out of their rooms, playing and socializing. 86-year-old Elsie Sottile even admitted the games get serious: “It might be leisure, but we’re fighting.” Who needs a better review than that?

Of course, the list of potential technology gifts for your aging loved one is long. We’ve suggested a few of the most easily accessible, popular, and convenient gifts to simplify life and add a little fun for your older relatives. Have a different suggestion? We’d love to hear from you in the comments. Happy shopping!

Images via Flickr by Symo0Markus Spiering and Amnestic_Arts

How Do You Make Thanksgiving Special for Your Parents?

How do  you make Thanksgiving special for your parents? Join in the conversation and share the ways you create memories with your parents, grandparents, and children over the holidays.

How do you make Thanksgiving special for your parents?

The Last Stop: Memories of a Thanksgiving Alone

Margery enjoying ThanksgivingAnticipating Thanksgiving without my family is much easier this year. I survived happily in 2013, so this year when I again told all four of my families that I would not travel to be with them, I felt much more confident remaining here in my apartment.

This year, a fellow resident and good friend who always joins her local family for Thanksgiving is including me. With great pleasure I thanked her for her invite and told her, “My children will be so happy that I have an invitation.” And indeed they were.

To find out how I was able to make it through last year’s holiday so well, I urge you to read my story of Thanksgiving 2013.

This post was written by Margery Fridstein, an author and retired psychotherapist who lives in a CCRC outside of Denver, CO. She is chronicling her experience in the monthly series, “The Last Stop With Margery Fridstein.”

Helpful Hints for Moving Your Parents

Remaining in a beloved family home until the end, with its familiar creaks and memory-filled rooms, is the desire of many seniors. But all too often, adult children are faced with the realization that their parents can no longer handle home maintenance or need supportive services to remain independent, whether driving to stores or dressing in the morning.Truck on an open road

Though home care agency caregivers can visit throughout the day or spend the night, they can’t replace the security, services and camaraderie found at assisted living communities. Even if parents are willing to move to a community, this doesn’t guarantee moving will go smoothly; unlike other moves made during a lifetime, this move will likely be the most difficult one a family will face.

This is why SeniorHomes.com is taking a look at the moving process. This week, in the second part of a three-part series, we provide tips from experts on the moving process itself, from packing to unpacking.

Get more helpful hints in Part 2 of our moving series, “Strategies for Successfully Moving Your Parents.” For more moving advice, check out the first part in our series, “It’s Never too Early to Plan a Move,” and keep our Senior Moving Center bookmarked.

Joan’s Journey: The Perfect Storm Hits Senior Living

The “Perfect Storm” occurred on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, at approximately 6:05 p.m. Five elements—firemen, paramedics, a mail carrier, neighborhood citizen, and senior living residents and staff—joined forces to avert potential chaos. Holiday Villa East (HVE) in urban Santa Monica rocked—not from an earthquake, but from Democracy at its best.

Welcome, Joan’s Journeyers. Most years of my life, voting has been a chore of waiting in Baltimore’s chilly November air to enter and vote at my neighborhood middle school. This year, SM Precinct 51 is located in the Activity Room of my home at HVE. My metaphor to a Perfect Storm occurred after dinner, as I walked from the building’s dining room into the main hallwayGetting Ready to Vote at HVE

A Perfect Storm of folks stood before me, quietly and politely either doing their job, heading for the HVE evening movie or waiting to vote in the adjacent room. The evening movie begins promptly at 6:15. Residents rustle in earlier to ensure good seats. Our efficient mail carrier arrived to fill our mailboxes at the usual 6-ish time.

Minutes earlier, a resident became ill and required immediate attention. HVE is located within blocks of two major hospitals, a fire station and police department. Almost immediately, paramedics and firemen were on the scene—our scene. All the while, a steady stream of voters—voters of all races, young, middle-age, elderly, along with babies and children—etched along the hallway and into the temporary Precinct 51. Others emerged, proudly wearing an “I Voted” sticker.

Journeyers, the five-storm elements connect senior living and the greater community. “No man is an island,” notes English poet and Church of England theologian John Donne, in his 1624 works, “Meditation, XV11.” Acclaimed for his unusual imagery, Donne continues, “Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main … for whom the bells toll.”

Likewise, senior residences are not islands. Rather, together with the greater community, they enrich and improve lives. In upcoming blogs we will explore specific interactions and folks who contribute to the Perfect Storm metaphor. SeniorHomes.com and I invite you to continue to share your greater community and senior living experiences. Until our next blog in late November, enjoy the journey, day-by-day. Happy Thanksgiving!

Joan London, a former Houston Chronicle correspondent and noted magazine writer/editor, specializes in freelance writing/editing of issues relating to seniors. London moved to a senior community in Southern California, where she has enhanced her quality of life and is close to her children and grandchildren.

Moving Your Parents: It’s Never Too Early to Start Planning

Remaining in a beloved family home until the end, with its familiar creaks and memory-filled rooms, is the desire of many seniors. But all too often, adult children are faced with the realization that their parents can no longer handle home maintenance or need supportive services to remain independent, whether driving to stores or dressing in the morning.Planning a Senior's Move

Though home care agency caregivers can visit throughout the day or spend the night, they can’t replace the security, services and camaraderie found at assisted living communities. Even if parents are willing to move to a community, this doesn’t guarantee moving will go smoothly; unlike other moves made during a lifetime, this move will likely be the most difficult one a family will face.

This is why, over the next few weeks, SeniorHomes.com will be looking into the moving process and ways to overcome some of the challenges presented throughout.

The first step, and one of the most difficult, is planning a move. This includes figuring out where your parent will live, discussing the process with them and getting as much downsizing and packing done as early as possible.

Details of this are covered in our article, “It’s Never too Early to Plan a Move.” For even more helpful senior moving tips, check out our Senior Moving Center.