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)

 Stuffing

“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

Kolaches

“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.

Is Hosting Family on Thanksgiving Stressful or Fun?

How do you feel about hosting family on Thanksgiving? Is it stressful or fun?

Thanksgiving Stressful or Fun

Want to read more about the holiday season? Check out these articles:

The ‘Senior Homes’ of the Future

Imagine a day when bending over to turn things off, reaching for switches and stumbling in the dark will be a thing of the past. The homes of the future will make your elderly loved ones safer and more comfortable as they age in place.

Smart homes have technologies and gadgets to help residents control their environment from a single device, making aging in place easier than ever.

Lighting the way forward

As seniors age, their eyes need more light. No one should navigate a crowded room in the dark to find a light switch. It is way too easy to trip and fall over something you can’t see.Smart homes, and smartphones, can make aging in place significantly easier.

New smart home systems take the fumbling out of finding the light switch. You can control the lighting directly from your mobile phone. This means you can have your house turn its lights on before you get home, and you never need to get up to adjust the lights. Even better for seniors, smart systems can learn your schedule so that your lights are always on when you need them, and off when you don’t. No more stumbling around dark rooms!

Securing your home

New security systems are much more than just an alarm bell. Now you can lock down your whole house remotely so that it’s always secure. Cameras at your front door mean you can see who’s ringing your bell or if your grandchildren have gotten home safely. Need to let someone in your home when you aren’t there? Don’t leave the key outside where anyone can use it. Give them permissions and your house will open just for them. It’s like having your own personal doorman!

Keeping the perfect temperature

No one wants to come home to a house that’s freezing or burning up. And leaving the air conditioning running all day is a waste of energy. That’s not a problem anymore! With a swipe of your smartphone you can turn adjust the temperature on your HVAC unit. Wish your house would take care of even that for you? Products like the Nest thermostat let you program automatic adjustments so your house is always the perfect temperature.

Don’t have an HVAC system? A smart fan will do the trick. These fans monitor your room’s temperature and humidity and learn your preferences. They turn off when you’re away to save energy but snap to attention when you enter the room. Now that’s service!

Blocking the sun’s rays

Windows let in energizing sunshine, but it’s a pain to open and close the blinds. So often those cords are hidden behind furniture and hard to reach, which is just asking for trouble. Skip the pain with automatic window shades. Raise and lower your blinds automatically or with the touch of a button.

Do you hate that your blinds block your view of the birds outside your window? Dynamic glass windows have adjustable tint settings, like transition sunglasses—no window coverings needed! You can change the tint with your smartphone or your can simply let them adjust to the outside world. They keep out blinding sun rays, keep your home cool and reduce your energy usage. And they don’t block your wonderful view.

Doing the chores

Don’t you hate it when you forgot to start the dishwasher or washing machine before you left the house? With the ability to control your appliances remotely, you will never forget a load. Washers and dryers, dishwashers and refrigerators can all communicate with your smartphone. You can control them, and they can communicate with you. They can tell you the energy they’re consuming, if the power’s out and nudge you when your loads of dishes and clothes are done. You’ll never find a musty, forgotten load of laundry again!

Enjoying the drive

You spent ages adjusting the seat in your car to perfectly support your back, only for it to be changed by the next person who drives your car. If only you had a butler who would start your car, warm it up, adjust your seat, and play your favorite music for you… You need a car that remembers your customized settings!

With these intelligent cars, each driver has their own set of keys. When you unlock the car, it knows that it’s you and adjusts everything to fit you perfectly. With remote starting features, your car will be warm and ready to go by the time you walk outside. No adjustments necessary.

Conclusion

Haven’t we all wished we had a universal button to control everything in our homes? The future is here, and our smartphones are the remote of our dreams. Granted, it may be too late to teach your beloved grandma how to use a smartphone, but the next generation of aging seniors will already be incredibly tech-savvy. This new technology will make aging in place a breeze—and a whole lot of fun, too.

Shayne Fitz-Coy is the Co-CEO and President of Alert-1, an aging-in-place technology company headquartered in Williamsport, Pennsylvania with offices nationwide. Shayne is an NAHB Certified Aging in Place Specialist with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard College and a Masters in Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He hails from Maryland, and now calls the Bay Area home