Archive for the ‘Aging in Place with Shayne Fitz-Coy’ Category

9 Hacks and Swaps for Fancy and Green Seniors

Hacks and Swaps for Fancy and Green SeniorsYou want to be greener. But you don’t want to give up your creature comforts. Rest easy—with some small hacks and swaps, you can lead a more sustainable life.

Now sing with me. I’m so fancy, you already know. I’m a senior just trying to green my home. I’m so fancy and I can reach this goal, if I up my green game. Let’s go-o-o-o-o-o-o-o.

1. Inspect Your Home

Have a professional assess your insulation level. Many people unknowingly pay good money to heat the outdoors or cool their garage. Owners of older homes should schedule an insulation and energy audit. The original builder should be able to provide basic information for new homes.

2. Be a Greener Cleaner

Run only full loads of dishes or laundry (not together). Now, let them air dry. Remember to use cold water. Double down on green and go old school with sustainable cleaning products. Feel free to buy your supplies from leading stores or create your own at home. Baking soda, lemon juice, oils, borax and the Internet are your best friends.

While you’re at it: homemade soap bars make amazing gifts that your friends will love.

3. Let Your Lights Shine, Not Warm

Replace old bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs. They are bright and beautiful without wasting energy on releasing heat. This hack is so simple it’s “like you’re giving lessons in physics.”

4. Impress Your Friends with Smart Technology

Convert your appliances to smart appliances. The fancy side of you will love that you can turn your lights on and off from a remote application on your phone. The green side of you knows that your smart house can do the green work for you. From the lighting to the temperature, everything adjusts just how you like it. It will feel “so good getting what you want.”

5. Use Reusables

Paper or plastic? Opt out of both by bringing your own cloth bags to the store. For storage and transport, use reusable crates instead of cardboard boxes.

6. Change Your Driving

Keep your car in tip-top condition. Drive slower and inflate your tires. Reduce the junk in your trunk for better gas mileage “from L.A. to Tokyo.”

7. Switch Into the Fast Lane

Splurge on a new hybrid or electric car for some serious swagger. From the Prius and the i3 to the Leaf, Tesla and the Chevy Spark, you will find a car that fits your lifestyle. Your friends will ask “Who that, who that?” as you drive by.

8. Purge Your Paper

Unsubscribe from junk mail. Switch to electronic versions of your favorite magazines and newspapers. Scan your old files and receipts and recycle the originals. Try applications like Evernote and OneReceipt. You can make your electronic copies more organized than the paper versions ever were.

9. Do a Digital Diet

When leaving your home, unplug your appliances and electronics. This reduces phantom loads—energy use from idle electronics. Use power strips to turn everything off with a single button. Look for smart strips that turn off the power flow when the appliances are off. You don’t “ever have to turn down nothing.” Take the next step and go screen-free for a day. Then try it for a week.

Luxury and comfort, meet sustainability. You’ll get “the whole world asking how I does that.”

Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.

Best Warm Places to Escape to in 2016

escape-to-the-beachAs fun as snowy winter weather can be, sometimes you just need to escape for some vitamin D therapy. Do you envision relaxing on a white sandy beach? Or is the dry heat of Arizona calling your name? From the bustling city of Oahu to the turquoise waters of the Caribbean, these are the top desert, beach and city destinations for your 2016 travel adventures.

Desert 

Nothing beats the heat of the desert. And nothing compares to its wide-open spaces, geological beauty and quiet solitude.

Death Valley, California

If vitamin D therapy is definitely what you need, a visit to warm and sunny Death Valley is just what the doctor ordered. The Valley is known for its record-breaking heat.

Plan your visit in the spring, and you will get to see the valley of death turn into a valley of life. From February to July there is a spectacular explosion of wildflower blossoms covering the desert floor.

Any time of year, you can visit Death Valley’s sand dunes, relax in warm hot springs and marvel in its stark natural beauty. With names like the Devil’s Golf Course and Mosaic Canyon, how can you resist?

Grand Canyon, Arizona 

The Grand Canyon is one of the United States’ incredible natural wonders, stretching a vast 277 miles from end to end. A mile straight down you will find the Colorado River winding its way along the canyon floor.

You can explore the canyon in every way imaginable. Hiking, backpacking, biking, off-road driving, helicopter flights and mule rides are only some of your options. A must-see stop is the Grand Canyon skywalk—a glass walkway that extends 70 feet out from the canyon’s rim.

Pictures don’t do this breathtaking sight justice; you truly have to experience it in person.

Beach

Is there anything more relaxing than lying out in the sun, burying your toes in the sand and watching the waves? These exotic locales may be just the winter pick-me-up you need.

Turks and Caicos Islands, Caribbean

The Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean are home to picture-perfect white sand beaches. With consistently warm temperatures, even at night, you’ll never be cold.

Plunge into the warm blue water and snorkel over exquisite reefs. Or take to the sky in a breathtaking hot air balloon tour. When you’re ready for a break, you can enjoy beachfront dining with views that can’t be beat.

Once you enjoy a walk down the powdery white shores of the Caribbean, you won’t want to go home!

Phuket, Thailand

With its turquoise lagoons and sherbet sunsets, Phuket is an island conjured out of a dream. Surrounded by the clear waters of the Andaman Sea, it is home to silky-soft beaches and picturesque views.

Whether you are looking for world-class diving, an exciting rainforest adventure or a round of golf at international-standard courses, Phuket has no lack of activities.

Once you have had enough sun, Buddhist temples, Chinese shrines, relaxing spas and a lively nightlife entertainment scene await you. 

City

Experience the perfect mix of city life and beach living with these cities full of rich cultural destinations and lively party scenes.

Oahu, Hawaii

Sandy white beaches and clear blue water seem to epitomize Hawaii. While Oahu has lovely beaches and scenery for you to enjoy, it is the heart of its big city that distinguishes it from the other Hawaiian Islands.

If you love art, food, shopping or surfing, Oahu is the place for you. The island is full of cultural and historical sites, including Pearl Harbor, the Bishop Museum and the Polynesian Center. Many of these destinations are accessible and can be easily reached by public transportation.

Enjoy a day in the city, then kick back and watch a sunset on one of the island’s pristine beaches. With Oahu you will get the best of both worlds.

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Once a small fishing village, the bustling city of Playa del Carmen is now one of Mexico’s top travel destinations. Home to many all-inclusive resorts, this trendy city has a European flair with restaurants and shopping to fit every taste.

In Playa del Carmen you can meet playful spider monkeys, explore ancient ruins and visit Mexico’s best golf courses. Take a trip to the popular Xcaret eco-Park and swim with dolphins, explore a bat cave and see jaguars up close.

Playa del Carmen’s vibrant culture is the perfect getaway for the city lover. Beachside lounges and exquisite dining awaits you in this Euro-chic Mexican city.

Sunny Retreats

Escape the cold grip of winter and head for someplace warm and sunny. Kick back and relax, go on an adventure or party the night away—the choice is yours. Go get that vitamin D and make 2016 the year you embark on your next great adventure.

Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.

Surprising Ways Seniors Can Stay Fit in the Winter

senior-fitness-activitiesThe weather outside is frightful, and all you want to do is snuggle on the couch with your warm blankets and a mug of hot chocolate. But after all of those Christmas cookies you ate this holiday season, you know it’s time to get up and moving.

The good news is that being healthy doesn’t have to mean going outside and turning into an ice cube. It’s time to get motivated with some surprising ways to stay active while staying out of the cold.

Playing Games

Who says staying active can’t be fun? The best way to exercise is to forget you’re exercising. Grab some friends and play games that keep you moving.

  • Indoor Mini-GolfChallenge your coordination and visualization skills with miniature golf. The game may be small, but it is big fun. Even regular golfers will be challenged by mini-golf’s clever obstacles.
  • BowlingWhen’s the last time you put on a pair of bowling shoes? Head over to your local lanes and get laced up. Choose your ball, knock over some pins, and cheer your friends as they try to beat your high score.

Taking it Easy

Need to keep your workouts low impact? It’s all about getting creative with where you exercise.

  • Aqua DanceSwimming is the best low-impact activity. Find a heated indoor pool that offers aqua dance or water aerobics classes. Water aerobics is a surprisingly great workout. You will dance and swim your way to better health.
  • Window shoppingThe mall is the perfect place to take a walk on a winter day. Stay warm while enjoying the sights. People watch, look in the windows and maybe try on a few things. Even if you don’t buy a thing, you will have spent the day burning calories without even realizing it.

Staying Home

You don’t have to go very far to start getting in shape—you don’t even have to leave your living room.

  • Video gamesVideo games don’t have to mean sitting on the couch. Wii and the Xbox Kinect were made to get you moving. Play a wide variety of games, from tennis to shuffleboard to bowling. Or grab Dance Dance Revolution and dance to your heart’s content—all without leaving your living room.
  • CleaningCleaning is very few people’s idea of a good time. Why not make a game out of it? Put on your favorite upbeat song and see how much you can get done before the song ends. Make a playlist of your favorite tunes and you’ll find yourself dancing and singing your way to a cleaner house and better health.

Being Adventurous

Don’t let staying inside be an excuse to be lazy. Stretch your limits, push your boundaries, and get your blood pumping while staying indoors.

  • Rock climbingThere’s nothing like the feeling of accomplishment you get from scaling a wall and looking back down at the ground. Revel in your body’s power with an amazing arm and back workout. Rock climbing gyms have walls of different levels so that you can increase the challenge whenever you’re ready.
  • Ballroom danceHave you ever watched Dancing with the Stars and wished you could dance like them? Head over to your local ballroom studio and sign up for classes—no partner required. Before you know it, you will be twirling around the ballroom to your favorite songs and dancing the night away.

Getting Fit

Making your body strong doesn’t have to mean going to the gym and lifting weights.

  • Tai ChiTai chi is a martial art that is often called “meditation in motion”. You will do slow, flowing movements that stretch out your muscles and promote better balance and body awareness. Focusing on the movement will clear your mind and help you to forget your worries. 
  • PilatesPilates is a favorite of celebrities and dancers—and for good reason! It focuses on strengthening your core and maintaining lean muscles. It can be done with equipment and without, and can be adjusted to different experience levels. It will increase your strength and flexibility without feeling like a traditional gym workout.

Having Fun

Exercise doesn’t have to be a dirty word. Get creative. Find something that you enjoy–something that just so happens to keep you active. You’ll be having so much fun that you’ll surprise yourself with how strong you’ve gotten and how much better you feel.

Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.

Tips for Decorating a Smaller Home for the Holidays

decorating-a-smaller-homeWhen you’ve recently moved into a new place, the holidays can make you feel nostalgic for your old home. But even though your place is still fresh and unfamiliar, you can fill it with memories from Christmases past. Don’t have room for your standard 12-foot Christmas tree? Tap into your creative side and find new places for your traditional decorations.

  • Downsize your tree—You don’t need a tall Christmas tree to make the holidays complete. A small tree is easier to decorate and easier to store after the season is over. If you can’t fit all of your ornaments on it, you can rotate them for a different look every year. Put your tree up on a platform to give it a larger presence without taking up as much floor space.
  • Forgo a tree—Can’t get a tree this year? You can still have the symbol without taking up the space. Pin garlands or lights on the wall in the shape of a tree or cut a tree and ornaments out of construction paper. You don’t have to be without this quintessential Christmas symbol.
  • Display ornaments creatively—Do you have more ornaments than will fit on your tree? Hang them on your walls, display them on shelves, and use them to decorate wreaths. Group them together in odd numbers and play with their heights.
  • Pass along old favorites—If your grown-up children have places of their own, gift them their favorite childhood ornament. They can add it to their own tree so they always have a piece of home with them.
  • Use your windows—Limited wall space? Your windows are perfect places to hang wreaths, ornaments, and garlands. Drape garlands around the edge and hang a wreath covered with ornaments in the center.
  • Don’t forget your front door—You may not have a front yard, but you certainly have a front door! Don’t be afraid to go crazy and cover your door in holiday cheer. If your door has windows, hang a snowflake or ornament in each so they can be seen inside and out.

When’s the last time you’ve bought a new Christmas decoration? Take this opportunity to go shopping for a few new statement pieces to perfectly complement your new space. See what’s new and trendy in the shops. Splurge on something you really love to add to your collection.

Making Your New Place Feel Like Home

Moving to a different neighborhood can mean some big changes. You can no longer walk to your town’s annual Christmas parade and there’s no room for your grandchildren to stay over. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have the same holiday spirit. The key to maintaining your traditions is being flexible.

  • Don’t expect perfection—Traditions are important, but they are supposed to be fun. Don’t stress about making everything exactly the way it used to be. If you are no longer enjoying the process, it’s time to adapt or let the tradition go.
  • Stay connected with your children—With everything being different, it can be difficult to gather the family together. Perhaps this year one of your children can host the annual get-together. Or you can gather at a different time of day so that everyone can make it. What’s important is keeping in touch.
  • Remember small rituals—They are as important as big traditions. Some may be as simple as the family gathering to watch an annual event on TV. Don’t let these traditions become forgotten just because you are in a new place. It’s often these small rituals that really make the holidays feel special.
  • Make a home-cooked meal—Nothing makes a new place feel homey quite like the smell of cookies and pies in the oven. Make your old favorites to bring the smells you miss into your new home.

Your new town may surprise you with holiday traditions of its own. Ask your neighbors for their favorite things to do, places to eat, and events to see during the holidays. You may just find a new favorite. 

Mixing the Old and the New

Your first holiday in your new place may be difficult, especially when you look back at what your move has cost you. But your new place is full of opportunity when you look forward. You don’t have to abandon your old ways. Mix the old and the new. Your traditions will make the holidays feel like the holidays and make your new place truly feel like home.

Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.

One More Holiday at Home: Why You Should Move After the New Year

holidays-at-homeYou have had moving on your mind this year. You promised yourself you would be packed up and ready to go by September. Then September turned into October, and now it’s the end of the year. You want to downsize, but with the holidays fast approaching, is it really the right time to move?

Don’t worry about lost time. By waiting, you have presented yourself with a great opportunity to enjoy one last holiday at home. You may even have an easier move thanks to some special New Year’s perks.

Less Stress—The holidays are a wonderful time of year, full of shopping, cooking and family events. They can also be stressful as you rush around to finish errands. Think back to last year. How much free time did you have? Unless you have holiday super powers, probably not much time at all. Your schedule is already full. Don’t add house hunting, packing and moving to your to-do list.

Enjoy Your Traditions—Your home is the center of your holiday festivities. It is full of memories of past holiday seasons. Next year you will be making new memories in your new place. This year, cherish your holiday traditions as they are one last time. Have your family over for a holiday dinner and reminisce about the good times you’ve had in your home.

Save Money—Waiting until the new year gives you an advantage in the real estate market. Winter is considered the slow season, which means there’s greater opportunity for bargains.

  • Sellers are motivated to sell their home quickly. They will offer you lower prices and extra incentives. You will have more negotiating power.
  • There is less buying competition thanks to fewer people braving the cold.
  • Moving companies are more flexible with their schedules in the winter. Many top movers will offer incentives and deals to win your business.
  • Realtors are less busy and have more time to devote to finding you the perfect new place.

Winter is a buyer’s market. Don’t put house-hunting off. It’s worth a look to see what’s out there. If nothing else, you will have a better understanding of your options. You might just find your dream home for a great deal.

Pack Once, Not Twice—The end of the holidays means packing the trimmings away in their boxes. Since you are already in a packing mood, this is the perfect time to start the moving process. Start by packing the decorations and downsize them as you go. Save time next year by only bringing decorations that will fit in your new place. Then move on to the rest of the house, organizing and packing room by room.

Get More Help—The more help you have, the better experience moving will be. But during the holidays, everyone is busy. Your friends and family will be much more available and willing to help after the holiday season wraps up.

Stay Safe—Snow and ice may be beautiful, but it is slippery and dangerous. Moving in cold weather has its challenges. Stay safe by keeping these tips in mind.

  • Clear outside paths of snow and ice and salt your driveway before you start carrying heavy boxes.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You don’t need to do this by yourself. Hire a trustworthy moving company or ask your family to help. The move will be faster and you won’t have to do the heavy lifting. It is worth your safety and peace of mind.
  • Wrap delicate china and furniture in bubble wrap. Delicate items don’t like the cold. The bubble wrap acts as insulation to prevent the cold from causing cracks and other damage.
  • Don’t pack winter supplies. You don’t want to be digging through boxes to find your woolies. Leave out wintertime necessities including shovels, ice scrapers and salt so you can easily access them.
  • Dress in layers. Moving is hard work. Dress in layers so you can shed clothing if you start to overheat.
  • Protect your floors. Put down plastic sheeting or pieces of cardboard in high-traffic areas to keep floors clean and in good condition.
  • Check the utilities in your new place. Make sure the electricity, heat and hot water all work before you move in.

A New Year, a New Beginning

This holiday season, concern yourself with just one thing: the holidays. Keep that as your focus and let moving take the backseat. Spend quality time with family and friends, not with moving boxes.

Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.

Senior Blogging Made Easy

Seniors can find it tough to keep in touch in a technology-focused world. When they finally do get the chance to call and catch up with family, they may forget to tell that funny story they knew their daughter would love.

If that sounds familiar, instead of waiting for the next call, try sharing your stories on your own personal blog.

The Internet may feel like a young person’s world, but it is a world of possibilities for people of advanced ages. With a few easy steps, your senior blog can be up and running, allowing you to share your thoughts with the world, regain purpose in life and build a feeling of connection with your far-off family.

Setting Up Your Blog 

WordPress is one of the easiest ways to set up your first blog. It is free, and you can upgrade for special features. The easy setup process means you can get to writing right away. 

  1. Go to wordpress.com and click on “Create Website.”
  2. Decide on the name of your blog. Your blog’s name is how people will find the blog, and the title is the perfect chance to show your personality.
  3. Choose a plan. You can stick with the free option, or you can upgrade to get your own domain name and more storage space. If you decide to purchase a domain name, your blog will live at yourblogname.com instead of yourblogname.wordpress.com.
  4. Create your account by entering your email address and creating a password.

Designing Your Blog

Now that you’ve created your account, you can get to the fun part—customizing what your blog will look like. When you log into your account, you will see a menu on the left side. This is where you control your blog.

  1. Choose a theme. This is what your website will look like. To change the theme, click on Appearance > Themes. Explore the library and click on “Live Preview” to see what it will look like. Once you’ve made your choice, click on “Save and Activate.”
  2. Add widgets. Widgets are tools that you can add to the sidebars of your blog. You can add an email subscription form, a Facebook Like box, and more. Choose the widgets you want and drag them from the list on the left to the boxes on the right.

Publishing Your First Posts

With your design complete, it is time to fill your blog with your thoughts.

  1. Create a new post by going to the left hand menu bar and clicking on Posts > Add New.
  2. Add a title to the post in the title box.
  3. Write your post. You can share memories from the past, your favorite recipes, or your thoughts about what happened today. The possibilities are endless!
  4. Click on “Save Draft” often, to make sure your work doesn’t disappear by accident.
  5. Preview your post to make sure it looks the way you want it to.
  6. Click on “Publish” to release your blog post into the world.

Congratulations, now you’re officially a blogger!

Staying Connected

A blog is designed to be read, so you will need to spread the word about your blog. Share the URL with your friends and family and post the URL to your social media accounts, if you have them. With your own blog, you will have your own little space on the Internet. It is the perfect way to both express yourself and stay connected to those you love.

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. A Certified Aging in Place Specialist, Shayne has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard College and a master’s in Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Shayne hails from Maryland, and now calls the Bay Area home.

8 Low-Impact Water Adventures for Water-Loving Seniors

Summer is here, so it’s the perfect time to cool off with water adventure activities. Even if your joints aren’t quite what they used to be, there are plenty of low-impact, senior-friendly activities that are far from boring. That’s right—your beautifully aging body doesn’t have to give up its youthful ways.

Ready to make a splash? Here are some suggestions for eight low-impact water adventure activities that are fun and benefit your health to boot.

Swimming

Good old-fashioned swimming is gentle on the body and joints. Moving through the water increases bone density, which reduces the risk of osteoporosis, and you can always go at your own pace—slow and steady wins the race! Just make sure to stay hydrated.

Water Aerobics

If you aren’t fond of swimming laps, water aerobics has all the advantages of the water without the swimming caps. Aqua aerobics increases cardiovascular health, builds your strength, and slows age-related loss of muscle mass. Even seniors at risk for falls can start balance exercises in the pool; falling only creates a splash. Many senior centers, local swimming pools, hotels and recreational centers offer classes.  

Water Walking

Not into classes? No problem! Find a pool and try water walking. Walking in water—Aquajogging—can be done in any shallow pool or in deep water with a floatation belt. The buoyancy of water supports your body’s weight making it ideal for reducing stress on the joints. Water walking even burns more calories than land walking since water has more resistance than air.

Fishing

Fishing is a great activity for all ages. Even if you have with limited mobility, you can still catch some big game, whether you’re casting from the shore or a pier. Get the grandchildren involved and teach them a thing or two. Any fin is possible if you don’t trout yourself. Try it, just for the halibut!

Boat Rides

Sailing can be an exciting change of pace from being on land—and Ralph Lauren attire is completely optional. From pontoons to mini yachts to motorboats, there are many possibilities for having a great time. A boat with a shade covering is ideal. Make sure to wear sunglasses, sunscreen and bring proper hydration. Tell them Santiago sent you. 

River Tubing

River tubing is an excellent combination of adventure and relaxation. Simply lounge on a tube while floating down a river, or, for the more adventurous, find a river with some swifter rapids to carry you down. Enjoy the ride while the river does all the work. 

Kayaking

Adventurous elders can get out on the cool water and grab a kayak! Kayaking works the arms and core while your legs get to hang out and enjoy the ride. Take it easy and choose a calm body of water to get some practice, then head out and explore your local lakes and rivers.

Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

Hawaiians have been paddle boarding for centuries—they used it to keep in shape when waves were not big enough to surf. Now paddle boarding is all the rage all over the world! Grab yourself a board and try this phenomenon. To do this activity, you need a paddle to propel yourself across a surface of water while standing on a paddle board. Stand-up paddle boarding increases your balance and strength as you propel yourself through the water. Your body uses almost every muscle while out on the water, and you get some great views as well. Paddle boarding is best on placid lakes and rivers or in calm ocean surf.

Snorkeling

Have you ever experienced marine life up close and personal? Snorkeling is a perfect activity for all ages. It is a wonderful way to see the beauty under the sea without the hassle of scuba equipment. You can snorkel in almost any body of water, but the best snorkel spots have warm water, good visibility and something interesting to look at near the surface. Shallow reefs are a great place to snorkel. Wet suits are a good idea for colder water and older bodies.

Conclusion

Don’t give up exploring just because you have reached your golden years. This is the time in your life to try new, exciting activities you have never tried before—and the water is a great place to start!

Shayne Fitz-Coy is the Co-CEO and President of Alert-1, an aging-in-place technology company headquartered in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Shayne has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard College, a Masters in Business Administration from Stanford, and a keen interest in any affordable tech gadgets that improve the daily life of seniors.

My Grandma Wants an Apple Watch (and Other Conundrums of the Wearable Tech Era)

It’s been more than a month since the Apple Watch’s release. You like the idea of Grandma having one so she can stay in contact. But after all the hype, is it worth it? Is it a product that Grandma will actually use? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons to see if the Apple Watch is something Grandma should get.

What is Grandma’s ideal smartwatch?

First things first: You need to ask if Grandma is willing to wear a watch in the first place. If that’s a yes, then you can move onto the next step, which is figuring out what you both want from a smartwatch. On my list for Grandma I have:

  • affordable
  • easy to use
  • long battery life
  • ability to easily send and receive calls and texts
  • ability to call for help in an emergency 

Why an Apple Watch?

The Apple Watch has some exciting features that make it stand out.

  • Notifications—Using Taptic technology, notifications feel like a tap on the wrist. She will no longer miss your messages.
  • Quick responses—Grandma can choose from prewritten text messages or use Siri to reply to you directly from the watch.
  • Customizable watch face—Whether she wants an analog clock, digital numbers or a visualization of the sun’s location in the sky, there’s a watch face Grandma will like.
  • Interchangeable watch band—The watch bands are easy to adjust and easy to change. Grandma can mix and match her styles.
  • Heartbeat sensor—Get an idea of Grandma’s general fitness level by tracking her heartbeat.
  • Fitness tracking—The watch contains an accelerometer that helps determine the wearer’s activity level. Great for encouraging Grandma to stay active.
  • Activity reminder—Does Grandma get stuck on the couch for hours at a time? The watch can tap her to remind her to get up and move so her joints don’t stiffen up.

There is an exciting future for the health applications of the watch. With the heartbeat sensor, an app could alert you if something goes wrong with Grandma’s heart and send for help. But unfortunately, the technology and app development is not quite ready to support this vision yet.

Why Not an Apple Watch?

The Apple Watch is not perfect. As a first generation product, it has many ways it could (and likely will) be improved. Some of its limitations include:

  • Too many notifications—If Grandma gets a lot of notifications on her phone, the constant reminders on her wrist will drive her crazy. You will need to set up filters for her so only the important notifications get through.
  • Battery life—The battery has turned out to be better than expected, but it still should be charged it every night. Forgetting means running low the second day.
  • Not waterproof—Grandma can wash her hands, but she shouldn’t submerge the watch in water.
  • Small screen—The screen is small and can be hard to read with aging eyes. It is difficult to tap precisely on such a small space, even with the digital crown as the main way to navigate.
  • Needs an iPhone—In order to use most of the watch’s functionality, including texting, making calls or using GPS, Grandma will need to have her iPhone nearby. The Apple Watch is a companion device, not a standalone product. This means the watch isn’t a replacement for her phone—she will still need to bring it along in her purse.

The Verdict?

The Apple Watch has a lot of potential, but it doesn’t tick all of the boxes that it needs to. Keep in mind that it is a first-generation product. It will be exciting to see what comes next. For now, there are alternatives that can do a better job at each task for a better price.

The Alternatives

For telling the time, it’s hard to do better than a traditional timepiece. But if Grandma has decided on a smart wearable, you have other alternatives that beat the prices and features of the Apple Watch.

  • For alternative smartwatches, take a look at the Samsung Gear and the Pebble. The Pebble in particular might be a good fit. It’s a standalone piece with a longer battery life and simpler controls.
  • If Grandma likes the fitness aspects of the watch, she should try out a fitness tracker like Fitbit or a posture reminder like Lumo Lift.
  • For the ability to call for help in an emergency, nothing beats a medical alert system. Those that work around the home are entirely waterproof, so Grandma can wear them in the shower and bath where she needs them most.

In conclusion, talk with Grandma about why she’s interested in the Apple Watch, and take her to the Apple store so she can see it for herself. If she’s technologically savvy, she might have a great time with it. But this technology is new, and is bound to get even better in the next version. For now, there are other products on the market that will better fit her needs.

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. A Certified Aging in Place Specialist, Shayne has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard College and a master’s in Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Shayne hails from Maryland, and now calls the Bay Area home.

Car Talk For Seniors: What Car Features Should Older Drivers Ask For?

Your mom is ready to speed into her golden years. But are her wheels ready?

Today’s cars make driving safer and more comfortable than ever before. But some features, like hooking up a Spotify account to the Bluetooth stereo, likely aren’t what mom needs. What features will please her Need for Speed? Follow the checklist below, with some help from our favorite Hollywood films!

A. Blind-spot detection

There’s always that one blind-spot in your car. Twisting and craning your neck to see is a good way to hurt yourself. Let your new car’s blind-spot detection system do the hard work. They use visual or audible warnings to let you know when there is a car hiding in the Vanishing Point. This means no more close calls and no more aching necks.

B. Lane departure warnings

Let’s face it—sometimes we get distracted and let our cars drift. Lane departure warnings mean these momentary lapses in attention don’t cause a Crash. Some will not only warn you but will nudge your car back on track.

C. Collision avoidance systems

If the car in front of you stops suddenly or a child runs out in front of your car, you’ve got to act fast. Collision avoidance systems make a crash less likely. They not only warn you of a sudden obstacle but can brake automatically. Collision avoidance systems help you avoid causing an accident and a Two Lane Backup.

D. Rear parking assist

Today’s cars even make parallel parking easy. Let your car do it for you. Pull up beside a space, press a button and let go of the wheel. It does all the work so you can get where you’re going with less fuss. Rear parking assist uses beeping proximity sensors to warn you before you get too close to other cars. The faster the beep, the closer you are. Pair this with a rearview camera so you can see exactly what is behind the car. These tools take the guesswork out of parking.

E. Doors at the right height

Avoid tall trucks and SUVs that you have to climb into. Remember, you’re looking for a Transporter to get from point A to point B. You’re going for a drive, not a workout. Be wary of cars with doors that swing too wide–they can make crowded parking lots a dangerous proposition. Instead, choose a car with doors that are easy to open at a height that suits you.

F. Adjustable seats

Driving isn’t fun when the seat makes your back hurt. Look for cars that let you drive Fast and Furious in comfort. You should be able to adjust the seat’s height, tilt and closeness to the steering wheel—bonus points for adjustable lumbar support. And look for heated seats – your back pain will be Gone in 60 Seconds.

G. Adjustable steering wheel

Make your car adjust to you, not vice versa. The steering wheel should be able to adjust upward for more room when getting in and then adjust down to the perfect height for driving. Look for thicker steering wheels that are easier to grip. If your hands tend to get stiff, a heated steering wheel will keep them from locking up.

H. Push-button starts and automatic trunks

Give your wrists a break on your Talladega Nights. Push-button ignitions are much easier than fussing with keys. If you are in and out of your trunk a lot, look for power-operated trunk hatches. Some open with a button press, or look for one you can both open and close by moving your foot under the rear bumper.

I. Simplified dashboard

Some cars cram too much information onto their dashboards. The Driver will want to see key info at a glance, but the rest is just a distraction. Look for large gauges with high-contrast numbering. Try out a digital speedometer—they can be easier to read than a traditional gauge. Avoid cars with touchscreen displays and complicated menus. You will want knobs and buttons for the radio and climate control that you can operate without taking your eyes off the road.

J. Smart headlights

Gone are the days when headlights just pointed straight as the cars were Driven. Check out cars with bulbs that swivel when you turn the wheel to better light up curves. If you use your high beams a lot, look for systems that dim so you don’t blind oncoming traffic. For regular use, high-intensity bulbs can make all the difference when driving in the dark.

Enjoy the ride

When the time comes to upgrade your car, you want to do it right.  These cars will support you as you age so you can stay independent for as long as possible. Soon you’ll have your very own Love Bug!

Shayne Fitz-Coy is the Co-CEO of Alert-1, an aging-in-place technology company headquartered in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Shayne has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard College and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Although he loves to drive, he looks forward to the day when his car includes an “autopilot” option. 

Seven Tech Solutions Under $100 That Make Senior Living Easy

Aging comes with its challenges, but with today’s technology, it is easier than ever. Whether you need some help reading, hearing or seeing in the dark, there is a tech solution out there for you.

Motion-Sensing Nightlights

Senior Living made easier thanks to inexpensive tech solutionsWhen you wake up in the middle of the night, it’s easy to stub your toe or trip over a shoe. Falling in the dark is an abrupt wake-up call that you do not want to experience. The easy fix? Motion-sensing nightlights.

These nightlights only come on when it is dark, and they sense your presence. This means you can sleep in the dark, but the light will come on when you get out of bed. They save energy by coming on only  when needed, and their lightbulbs rarely need replacing. At only $10 each, you can put them throughout your house, and you’ll never be caught in the dark again.

Presto Computer-less email

Do you have a friend who refuses to check her email? Or does Grandma always complain about having to go onto social media to see what you’re up to? You can help your loved ones stay in the loop with computer-less email. You send an email, and it prints out as a letter directly into their home. It’s just like getting snail mail, and there’s nothing new for your loved one to learn. Whether you send over birthday invitations, your latest family photos or an article you want her to read, you don’t have to rely on Grandma checking her email. She just needs to pick up the paper that the printer gives her. Easy!

Personal Sound Amplifiers

Do you have trouble hearing your pastor? Do you fight your family to turn the TV up?

You can turn the sound up with personal amplifiers, as much as you need and whenever you need it, without bothering those around you. For $35, you can get a handheld microphone that connects to a headset.

Kindle

For only $79 you can rediscover your love of reading. With the Kindle you can adjust the font size of your favorite books. The screen reflects light just like a regular book, so it isn’t hard on your eyes. It is so lightweight that you can take it anywhere you go. You can fit your entire bookshelf on the Kindle so that you are never without something to read.

Medical Alert System

For $25.95 a month, you can get the peace of mind of help being only a button push away. Medical alert systems help seniors stay safe in case of emergencies. When you press the help button, you are connected directly to a trained specialist who will send you the help you need. They stay on the line with you to comfort you and help you through your emergency. Seconds count in an emergency, and medical alerts can get you help fast.

With ‘smart’ fall detection, you don’t even need to press the button. These smart pendants sense when you fall and automatically call for help. As an added bonus medical alert systems are waterproof so that you can wear them in the shower where your phone can’t go.

Thin Reading Glasses

For most of us, reading glasses are just another thing to lose. But it can be hard to read your text messages without them!

Thin Optics are extremely thin reading glasses that fit on the back of a cell phone. They do not have arms but instead securely and comfortably fit onto the bridge of your nose. With these extremely portable reading glasses, you will no longer have to ask someone else what your text messages say.

Tile

How often do you lose your keys or wallet? Leave those frantic mornings behind with Tile.

You can get a four pack of Tiles for $70. Simply attach each Tile to your easily misplaced things. When you can’t find them, open the Tile app. The app uses Bluetooth to locate your lost items. You can see their location on the screen and listen for the tune the Tile plays. You’ll find your keys in no time!

Wrapping Up

These items will truly make your life better. They are all easy to set up and simple to use, and you’ll wonder how you lived without them before!

Shayne Fitz-Coy is the Co-CEO and President of Alert-1, an aging-in-place technology company headquartered in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Shayne has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard College, a Masters in Business Administration from Stanford, and a keen interest in any affordable tech gadgets that improve the daily life of seniors.