Safety Products for Home Care to Prevent Injuries

I have been deeply involved with the elder care market in the past few years. After my grandmother fell down and broke her hip, we began looking at some very helpful products and ways to prevent these serious falls. During this time, I also began helping out at the local Family Bridges home care office in Cincinnati, Ohio so this made me become aware of the issues that our senior citizens have. Below are some of the much needed products that I think elders should have when living at home.

Roll Around Walker– There are many different types of walkers, but if your elder has a lot of trouble moving around the house, these make things much easier because they have 4 wheels. Plus it has a basket which my grandmother regularly uses to store items such as her purse and cordless phone in case she need to contact someone conveniently.
Uplifting Seats– This is something that we haven’t needed yet for our elder, but every few months she seems to be having a little more trouble than before. Currently we are looking at giving her either a chair or seat type lift. They can be helpful to prevent falls from the struggle they have with getting of the couch.
Cushioned Bath Mats– We have been recommending non-slip type bath mats for a while, but these really caught my eye. Not only do these prevent slip & falls from happening, they also are padded so that if an elder does fall, the mat will absorb most of the impact.
• Rails & Gripping Handles- Elder Depot carries a few types of safety handles such as this handhold suction grip. These are great anywhere. A quick tip: be sure to observe where in the house the elder is showing any sign of struggle. Places to look for are areas with steps, bathrooms, and doorways.

Those are just some of the items that I think will be helpful to prevent serious accidents. Investing in a few of these items is worth preventing injuries that I have seen cost family 10’s of thousands of dollars. Plus you have the pain associated with that.

There are many other helpful items and it depends on the person’s needs so feel free leave a comment below to recommend a suggestion that you think should be added.

Was I wrong about Caregiver Robots?

Last July, I closed a blog post on how Family Caregiving is often like a Second Full Time Job with a comment that began with “Caregiver robots are still at least a decade away…” This week GeckoSystems followed Elder Depot on Twitter and let us know that the Carebot™ is a lot further along than I had imagined.

The Future looks Rosie?

Many of us remember Rosie the Robot, the mechanical maid from Hanna-Barbera’s animated sitcom The Jetsons, but how many of us would have guessed that we might just have housekeeping Robots in our lifetimes?

The Carebot™ has a long way to do before it can do the dishes, prepare dinner, or vacuum the floor…but it has passed some major milestones. It can now safely navigate through the chaotic clutter of a real home, hold basic conversions with humans, and keep track of a Senior as they move around the home. These are tremendous breakthroughs that are taking home robotics out of the future and into the now. There’s still a lot of work to be done but the Carebot™ is at the stage where it can provide some valuable Eldercare services…even if it can’t clean up the house just yet.

From the GeckoSystems Website…

Cost Effective Monitoring

Elderly people in nursing homes receive atten from nurses nine minutes per day on average. These places are expensive ($45,000 to $60,000 per year) and not always easy or convenient for family members to physically visit. There is a crisis for cost effective assistance. Concern for their parents is one of the main reasons for adult children to purchase an elder care enabled CareBot™ MSR. It will monitor the care receiver constantly, and it is only a one-time cost that eventually pays for itself.

Virtual Visits

Working parents of all ages seek assistance in caring for their children as a result of working long hours, and having to commute to and from their workplace. The ability to virtually visit their children from work, during travel, or anywhere they have Internet access is now possible. Working mothers and fathers can watch their children routinely in a window on their computer monitors while at work.

Automatic Reminders

The CareBot™ MSR reminds the care receiver to take medication, reminds them that family is coming over soon (or not at all), and it can alert them when there are unexpected visitors, or if intruders are present. It will also keep track of doctor’s visits.


The CareBot™ MSR is a new kind of companion that always stays close to the care receiver, enabling family and friends to care for them from afar. It will hold various levels of conversation with the care receiver. The personality, voice, and phrases can be customized.

Automatic Emergency Notification

The CareBot™ MSR notifies designated caregivers when a potentially harmful event has occurred, such as a fall, fire in the home, or the person has simply not been found by the CareBot™ for too long. It responds to calls for help. It can call 911 or, before resorting to 911, work its way through a list of designated emergency contacts.

It’s still going to be awhile before Elder Depot starts stocking CareBots™ but this exciting new Eldercare technology is advancing quickly and should hopefully soon be helping Caregivers/Seniors to live better.

The Super Little Grandmom ~ Fighting Senior Boredom

This morning as I was driving to work I heard an interesting interview on the radio about ‘Super Mamika’. No, Super Mamika isn’t a copycat of Super Mario, it’s a series of themed photographs by Sacha Goldberger featuring his Hungarian grandmother in the role of a superhero. Mamika means ‘Little Grandmother’ in Hungarian, so the literal translation is Super Little Grandmom.

The story behind ‘Super Mamika’ is that Goldberger noticed that his grandmother, after a long active life, was becoming bored and depressed in her later years. Like many concerned family members he brainstormed ways to engage her, though the solution he came up with does stand out as being more than a little unique.

The ‘Super Mamika’ series of photographs were only the beginning for Frederika Goldberger. She has continued modeling for photographs as can be seen on her MySpace page.

Fortunately you don’t have to be a professional photographer or even an artist to engage your elderly loved ones. It’s not only good for Seniors socially and emotionally but some studies have shown that mental stimulation “may” help slow the spread and lessen the symptoms of cognitive decline, as we’ve mentioned before. Of course, the more personal the better…apparently Frederika loves the humor of her Superhero counterpart…but here are a few general suggestions to get you going. Nothing quite as unique as Super Mamika.

  • Pictures: Looking at old family pictures together is one of the classic ways to engage Seniors. However, an often overlooked activity is showing Seniors unfamiliar pictures as well as familiar ones. Books of amazing photography  and picture heavy magazines like National Geographic can be very stimulating.
  • Card Games: Games like Bridge, Pokeno, and Pinochle are old favorites of many Seniors. Large print playing cards, card holders, and automatic card shufflers can enable individuals with dexterity or vision impairment to continue to play their favorite games.
  • Puzzles: Puzzles can captivate Seniors for hours, keeping their mental juices flowing and focusing their attention on putting together a stimulating image. For Seniors with dexterity or vision difficulties, it’s recommended to look for puzzles with Large Pieces. Large Print Crossword Puzzles can also be a great help. There are also puzzles designed specifically for those with Alzherimers, which you can See Here.
  • Book Clubs: Getting a Senior involved in a slower paced book club can do wonders for them both mentally and socially. If the book club is inter-generational, all the better…as long as they’re reading books that have large print editions available.

What activities have you used to fight Senior Boredom and Depression? Share them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.

Keep in touch over the holidays!

You might remember me recommending Skype as a great free software gift back on Father’s Day. It’s a practical, innovative, and easy-to-use way to keep in touch with family.

Skype is a free computer program that will allow your family to do something that was once considered the stuff of science fiction. Like the Jetsons, you can keep in touch with loved ones through video conference technology that will allow family to see faces while hearing words. It is a powerful tool to help fight against feelings of isolation and abandonment.

Skype works by transmitting voice and video signals over the Internet. Skype to Skype calls are provided as a free service. Skype is also capable of making calls to normal phone lines though this service has a small fee.

All that Skype requires is a Computer of average capacity, an external microphone, and a broadband Internet connection. A webcamera is needed for video chatting but it’s not required as Skype can be used just for audio. Check it out at…

Skype is a great tool but it’s not right for every person or every situation. We want to help families keep in touch over the holidays and that’s why Elder Depot offers a full line of Senior Friendly Telephones.

Creamy Ensure® Eggnog Pudding

This delicious holiday treat is healthy too! Packed with nutritional value from Ensure® products, this take on traditional eggnog pudding not only tastes good, it’s good for you.

Creamy Ensure® Eggnog Pudding

Makes: 4 servings


  • 1 1-ounce package instant vanilla sugar-free, fat-free pudding mix (can be substituted with one 3.5-ounce package regular instant vanilla pudding mix, if desired)
  • 1-1/2 cups COLD Ensure® Homemade Vanilla Shake*
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, plus a dash for the top
  • 1/2 teaspoon artificial rum flavoring
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup fat-free whipped topping, divided


  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the pudding mix, Ensure Homemade Vanilla Shake, nutmeg, rum flavoring, and vanilla extract.
  2. Whisk vigorously for 2 minutes until thick.
  3. Fold in 1/2 cup whipped topping.
  4. Divide the pudding into 4 serving dishes.
  5. Chill for 1 hour.
  6. When ready to serve, top each with 1 tablespoon whipped topping and a dash of nutmeg.
  7. Serve chilled.

Nutrition Facts (if prepared with Ensure®)
Serv. Size: 1/2 cup (106g)
Calories: 140
Calories From Fat: 40

Amount Per Serving % DV

Total Fat 4g 6%

Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Trans Fat 0g 0%

Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 160mg 7%
Potassium 155mg 7%
Total Carb. 20g 7%

Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Sugars 12g

Protein 4g 8%

Vitamin A 10% Vitamin C 20% Calcium 15% Iron 10%

*This recipe can be prepared with Ensure® Nutrition Shake or Ensure Plus®. Nutrition information will vary with product used.
†Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 Calorie diet.

Bath Safety Product Guide

Many injuries for seniors occur in the bathroom, which is not surprising, given the mix of water with slippery surfaces. We have put together a list of helpful tips and products that will make the bathroom safer and help prevent falls and injuries before they happen.

The items below can all be used in your current bathroom and do not require any bathroom remodeling. These innovative product choices will allow you to design the bathroom that best fits your safety needs.

Raised Toilet Seats

Raised toilet seats help with allowing you to stand up and sit down more easily and comfortably. This is especially important if you have difficulty with mobility, such as arthritis in your knees or other leg impairments. These Elevated Toilet Seats install on your existing toilet bowl and add anywhere from 2” to 6” in height, making sitting and standing much easier. Since the standard height of a toilet is usually only about 15” high (with some ADA models now available at 17”), this extra height can be very helpful.

Choosing the Size

There are a couple of considerations before purchasing a raised toilet seat. You will first want to make sure of which size toilet you have. This is the #1 consideration, because if the toilet seat doesn’t fit, you can’t use it! Standard toilets in the United States are typically found in 2 sizes, Standard (Round) or Elongated (Oval). To determine your toilet size, measure from the center of the seat bolt holes in the back of the toilet to the outside front of the bowl. The measurement of a Standard size toilet is generally around 16-1/2” Long. An Elongated (oval) Toilet is approximately 18-1/2” Long.

Choosing the Height

Raised Toilet Seats are available in several height options from 2” to 6”. The height of the toilet seat riser will depend up on the height of the individual. An average height person should be good with a riser between 3”-4” on average. For a taller person, a 6” height might be more appropriate and for a shorter person a 2” height might be all that is needed. We are not aware of any toilet seats great than 6” in height mainly due to safety reasons; however, if you find that you do need 8”-9” of additional toilet seat height, you can combine a raised toilet seat with a toilet base riser to obtain the needed height.

Choosing Installation Features

Most raised toilet seats are constructed of a durable plastic material and are offered in a variety of different options for installation. Do you need to remove the raised toilet seat more quickly and easily on a regular basis in a shared bathroom or will the seat be used for travel? If either of these is true, you will most likely benefit from a raised toilet seat that does not require any tools for installation. There are several types that simply slide into the rim of the toilet seat bowl and do not provide any locking options. This is fine for those that are slightly more mobile and stable. There are also several models available that install in the same manner, but also include a frontal turn knob to lock the seat in place on the rim to help prevent movement of the toilet riser.

If you will not need to remove the toilet seat on a daily or regular basis, then it is recommended to purchase a raised toilet seat that installs with tools and bolts in the back of the toilet. These types of raised toilet seats will be the most secure and are recommended for those that require additional stability. They will almost always include the extra long bolts that install on your toilet in the exact same way as a regular toilet seat and lid. Most standard U.S. toilets include bolt holes that are 5-1/2” apart and most bolt down model raised toilet seats do adjust for a proper fit.

One of the biggest concerns with raised toilet seats that provide a more permanent bolted installation is “How easy are they to clean?” and “What if my husband will be using the same toilet?” There is actually a great solution that solves both of these issues! The 3” Hinged Elevated Toilet Seat would be your best choice! This unique design includes bolt-down installation providing a sturdy seating surface, almost 4” in height when installed with your existing toilet seat and lid, and it is “Hinged” so that it can raise up and lower, just like a regular toilet seat. This is great for households with men, so they do not soil the seat and makes cleaning the toilet much easier.

Considering Toilet Arms or Handles

You can elect to have a toilet seat with arms included (typically most are removable) or you can purchase a separate Toilet Safety Frame to provide a handle grip to help with sitting and standing. The Toilet Safety Frame or other toilet handles can be used alone or along with most model raised toilet seats. Whether or not handles are needed is a matter of individual safety concern. If you would benefit from being able to hold onto the handles when raising yourself or lowering yourself onto the toilet, then this should be a feature to look for in a raised toilet seat or you can add the Toilet Safety Frame to your bathroom safety checklist.

Grab Bars

Grab bars are considered the staple of the bathroom when providing for bathroom safety. It would typically be a good idea to have a horizontal grab bar in the bathtub or shower in a position suited for the user and a second grab bar vertically installed next to the bathtub or shower exit for gripping assistance while stepping over the bathtub wall. Grab bars can also be installed next to the toilet or anywhere a secure hand grip is needed.

Types of Grab Bars

The standard wall mounted grab bar will install permanently onto the wall surface. They are generally constructed of a stainless steel to help prevent rusting and include a non-slip gripping surface for the user. There are also composite plastic grab bars that will never rust. A newer item that was recently introduced in the last few years is the Suction Tub Grab Bar, which installs with suction cups and does not require any tools for permanent installation. These suction grab bars may be good for travel or someone who requires very mild balance assist. However, if more than a mild balance assist is needed, I would recommend installing permanent grab bars for more reliable safety.

Choosing a Grab Bar

Grab bars are available in many different lengths, sizes, and colors. The standard grab bar lengths are 12”, 16”, 24” or 36”. There are variations to this, but these are the most typical sizes found in the market. The ADA (American with Disabilities Act) does provide for federal guidelines for grab bars being installed in public areas or new property construction; however, if you own your home, you can purchase whichever grab bar fits your needs and décor the best.

Standard ADA approved wall-mounted grab bars will include a diameter of between 1-1/4″ to 1-1/2″ and will provide 1-1/2” of spacing from the wall. There are many other specialty grab bars that individuals find useful, but they may not adhere to these exact guidelines.

Over the years, many manufacturers have come out with new colors and designs to better match your bathroom décor. There are stainless steel, brushed nickel, bronze, and many more. Some of the nicer models may even have special gripping surfaces to make using the bar safer and easier. One such model can be viewed here.

Installing a Grab Bar

Grab bars can be placed anywhere assistance is needed. There is no specific set guideline regarding the location of the bar. I would recommend that you have the person who will be using the grab bars enter and exit the tub and see where they grab onto the wall to assist themselves. This may be a good indication that a grab bar would be helpful in that area. The bars can be installed horizontally or vertically, depending on which ever will suite your needs the best.

Grab bars can be installed on almost any bathroom wall surface, provided there is a stud to secure the bar or a wall mounting anchor is used. There are special made drills that will allow you to drill through the tile without cracking it to install the grab bars. If you are worried about permanent installation, simply choose a nice design to match your bathroom décor and everyone can appreciate having a nice-looking bar to hold on to or to put your washcloth or towel.

If you are unsure of how to install your newly acquired wall mounted grab bars, it may be best to contact your plumber or local handyman to provide the installation, as drilling and tools will be required. If you are handy around the house, there are several online articles and you tube videos that explain how to install the grab bars yourself. It is very important that the grab bars are installed securely to a wall stud or installed with a wall mount kit to prevent the grab bar from coming loose and causing a fall. Many grab bars have user weight capacity limits; however, no grab bar should be considered secure unless it is installed into a wall stud or used with a mounting kit.

To view the listing of grab bars, please visit us here.

Tub Rails

Tub rails are a great device to assist with getting in and out of the bathtub or for help with getting up from a bath chair. A tub rail can be installed on any area of the bathtub wall where assistance will be needed and that will not interfere with the individual getting into and out of the tub. A tub rail is a great option for individuals who would benefit from a secure hand grip to help pull themselves up from a seated position or who need assistance when entering or exiting the bathtub.

Tub Rails VS. Grab Bars

The difference between a standard grab bar and tub rail is that the grab bar installs permanently on the walls of the bathroom, whereas the tub rail installs directly onto the side of the tub and can be installed and removed without any damage to the tub. Grab bars are typically installed vertically or horizontally on the wall and can provide a higher gripping surface if needed. Tub rails will typically have a lower gripping surface, which may work well for those using bath chairs. When a tub rail is used together with a wall grab bar, the user can then have a hand grip on both sides while entering or exiting the tub.

Choosing a Tub Rail

Tub rails are available in many different designs and sizes to fit individual needs. The first thing to consider is the construction of your bathtub. Most tub rails are designed for ceramic or other hard surface bathtubs and will not work with fiberglass tubs as the wall is not strong enough to safely support the rail installation and user weight. There is a newer model tub rail that will work with fiberglass tubs. You can find the details about this item here. It is also important to note that tub rails should not be used with Claw Foot Tubs or with tubs that include sliding doors, as the metal rods will prevent proper installation. For users with these types of bathtubs, you can consider using wall mounted grab bars or Alternate Type Support Rails that install on the wall or floor of the bathroom.

You will also need to check the thickness of your bathtub wall before buying a tub rail. Most tub rails will fit standard size tub walls, typically adjustable from approximately 3”-7”. Almost all tub rails install without tools (hand tightening) and include pads so that they will not mar or scratch the tub surface during installation and tightening.

Considerations for a Tub Rail

There are many tub rail designs to choose from, which will depend mainly on the individual needs of the user. Most rails run horizontally with the tub wall; however, vertical installation tub rails are also available. Some users prefer the tub rail to run perpendicular to the tub wall as they don’t want the tub rail interfering with getting in and out of the tub. The most important thing to remember when choosing a tub rail is the location of the rail. It should be installed in a place that will aid the user with getting in and out of the tub, but not cause any obstacles or interference.

Many users who are using a bath chair find a tub rail installed on the bathtub wall and a wall mounted grab bar on the other side useful for helping to pull themselves up to a standing position. Although some bath chairs may include arms, these are typically meant for balance assist and can assist users with pushing themselves upward to a standing position. However, it is sometimes easier for users to have an option to pull themselves up.

Tub rails are available in various lengths, heights, adjustable height, and there are those with multi level gripping surfaces to provide for a hand grip at different levels. You can check out the full selection of tub rail options here .

Slip Safety

It’s very important to make sure that the bathroom tub or shower area includes a good non-slip surface to prevent slipping when wet. This could be through the use of a bath mat or installing self-stick tread strips to ensure there is always a good foot grip to prevent falls.

Bath Mats

Bath mats are available in many sizes, colors, and forms. The most standard form of bathtub or shower mat includes suction cups along the bottom that adhere to the tub surface. Shower mats with rubber suction on the bottom seem to stay in place a little better with ceramic tubs than fiberglass surfaces. Bath mats should be installed on clean and dry surfaces, free of any residue.

Self Adhesive Treads

If you find that your bath mat tends to slip when the tub floor gets wet, you might want to try using the alternative self-stick adhesive backed bathtub treads as an alternative. When installing the self-stick treads, you want to make sure that the tub surface is completely clean and rinsed thoroughly from any cleaner residue. The surface should also be completely dry before installing the tread strips. These treads are available in strips, fish & shells, stars, and many other decorative designs. You want to make sure that enough of the tread strips are installed to prevent any areas that may cause a fall.

Bath Chairs

Bath chairs are great for individuals who cannot stand for long periods of time or who are unsteady on their feet. The chair is placed inside the bathtub or shower and you can sit safely and comfortably while taking your shower.

Bath Chairs & Handheld Shower Sprays

Bath chairs go hand and hand with Handheld Shower Sprayers. You can replace your existing shower head with a long hose handheld shower spray so you can keep the shower spray next to you or clipped on your bath chair for easy access. If the bathroom is being used by others that do not require the bath chair, the shower spray will simply mount back on top of the shower bracket for a standard shower.

Considerations for your Bath Chair

The most important thing you should do before selecting your bath chair is to measure the inside of your bathtub or shower. The majority of returns on bath chairs are a result of the chair not fitting inside of the bathtub. You want to make sure that the bath chair will fit securely in the tub on a flat surface, and don’t forget to account for the curvature of the tub wall! In most cases the seat width is not an indication of the width at the base of the legs. If the leg span (width x depth of the legs) is too large, the chair will be unstable and unsafe. This is especially important in older construction or in bathtubs that are smaller than the standard bathtub width.

Choosing a Bath Chair

There are many different varieties of bath chairs. Many people prefer the all composite plastic bath chairs as they are easy to clean and will never rust; however, bath chairs that are made of aluminum and plastic will also have little issues with rust. The seat size is also important. You want a bath chair that will provide enough room for the user, but not too big and bulky so that it gets in the way. Most standard bath chair seat dimensions are approximately 16”-20” wide x 14” deep, but can vary depending on the models. Weight capacity is another important factor. There are bath chairs that include a 250 lb. weight capacity and those that support up to 500 lbs.

Bath chairs are available with either a backrest or without a backrest, depending on your needs. Backrests can make your bathing experience more comfortable; however, some people prefer the open back to have better access to cleaning their back area and to have more freedom to lean backwards. The open back would not be recommended for those who have greater mobility issues and require the backrest for greater support and safety.

Bath chair handles are another option that is based on user needs. The handles of most bath chairs provide some leverage for helping to sit, stand and maneuver on the bath chair if needed. Handles are generally removable so you can remove them at any time. The handles of the bath chairs are really meant to be used as a balance assist for help with sitting and standing. If you have grab bars or a tub rail installed, it may be easier for some individuals to pull their full weight up from a seated position rather than try to push up their weight. Of course, the bath chair handles, grab bars, and tub rail can all be used together if this will provide the safest option for the user.

Bath chairs are available in many different styles and colors to fit your specific needs. Some include rubber non-skid tips and others include actual suction cup feet. Some include padded seats, folding options for portability, as well as wheels for mobility. The options can be overwhelming, but when you decide on a style that fits your specific needs the best, make sure that you double check all of the chair dimensions to make sure that the unit will provide the best option for your needs and bathroom space. You can view a full list of available bath chair here .

Bath Chair Accessories

There are many accessories available for bath chairs to make the bathing experience more comfortable and convenient. There are under chair bags to store shampoos, conditioners and other toiletries. If the bath chair does not already include a shower spray holder built into the chair, there are shower spray clips that can be used universally with most shower chairs. Some models, such as the designer bath chair includes an optional bathing baskets that attaches to the side of the chair.

Transfer Benches

Transfer benches are a perfect choice for those with very limited mobility. This is essentially a very wide bath chair that includes a permanent extension that sits on the outside of the bathtub so you can easily transfer from a wheelchair or simply sit down on the outside of the tub and maneuver yourself over the bathtub wall while sitting on the bench.

Considerations for your Transfer Bench

It is important to measure your bathtub width before selecting a transfer bench to ensure that the bench will be adequate for your space. The length of the bench is important because you don’t want the bench to be too short or too long for the space that you have. Almost all transfer benches are reversible, so they can be used universally for right side or left side entry tubs. Typically this is done by simply reversing the backrest and armrest of the bench.

Choosing a Transfer Bench

Transfer Benches do include solid surface benches, benches with built in commodes, and sliding transfer benches that actually allow you to gently glide into the tub and lock into place. Depending on your needs and space, there are many transfer bench styles and models to choose from.

There are several optional features, depending on the model transfer bench chosen. Some options include suction cup tips inside of the tub, curtain tucks to tuck the shower curtain into the bench a couple of inches, and many other others. You can view the full line of transfer benches here

Preventing Water Spillage with Transfer Benches

One of the most complained about things with the use of a transfer bench is that the shower curtain will not close around the bench to prevent water from getting outside of the tub. We have had people tell us that they simply cut slits in their existing shower curtain so that the unit would fit around the transfer bench. If you get an inexpensive shower curtain, this home-made solution might help.

VPG’s MV-1 vs BraunAbility…which is the better choice?

Review originally written for the New Mobility Blog and posted here with permission.

I’ve been hearing about the new wheelchair accessible vehicle by the Vehicle Production Group called the MV-1 for about a year now, and actually, when we were in Chicago last week, I saw the semi parked on Navy Pier. Apparently VPG decided to go on a cross-country promotional tour in order to get to Washington, DC in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  I had not heard any specifics about this vehicle until I did some hunting around online and it will certainly fill a particular need for the disabled and mobility impaired, but it’s not for everyone.

I’ve mentioned before that I am currently the proud owner of a Braun Entervan and have been absolutely in love with it since I got it over 5 years ago (I had 2 previous accessible minivans of different conversions before, but this one is my favorite). It fits my needs perfectly. The downside is that it’s a very expensive vehicle (and I have a “low end” conversion).

With all the press about the new MV-1, it seems like an appropriate time to write about wheelchair accessible vehicles, what to look for, and how to decide which route to go.

There are other accessible/adaptive vehicle manufacturers besides Braun and generally in the same price range (a new vehicle will begin at $50,000; used wheelchair vans can be purchased via Ebay or wheelchair van dealers for less and sometimes can be quite good deals). Braun (and other) vehicles can be driven by disabled drivers with adapted seating, steering, and gas and brake options (which add to the cost). However, some of those costs can be defrayed by state and federal grants which are designed to help disabled people go to work (to learn more about this, contact the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation in your state). Also, these accessible minivans come from a variety of existing vehicle manufacturers, in particular, Chrysler, GM, and Toyota.

From the looks of things on their website, it seems that the MV-1 will start at about $40,000 for a new vehicle and is designed for the disabled or elderly passenger (*not* primary driver). The accessible vehicle utilized universal design concepts, which means that the design is meant to be used equally as easily for able-bodied and mobility impaired passengers. It is their own vehicle design, not a custom design of an existing car model. One of the positive aspects of the MV-1 is that it also can be multi-purpose, most specifically as part of a taxi or other municipal fleet of cars which can be used by able-bodied and mobility impaired folks alike.

So now we revisit the topic of this post…if the person driving the vehicle is disabled, then going with a Braun is probably the best solution due to the ability to customize the minivan for the person directly.  If, on the other hand, you are looking for a vehicle to transport a disabled, wheelchair using person and/or an older family member who no longer drives, the MV-1 is worth looking into with the caveat that it is a brand-new vehicle to the market and not everyone feels comfortable with purchasing the first year model of a new car.

Free Computer Software for Father’s Day

5 “Gifts” that will help keep the computer accessible, safe, and fun.

Each Dad is unique in their own way but if there is one trait that most of them share, its that they are often the hardest people to shop for in a family. Especially in their elder years after they’ve left their workshops, hunting trips, and grills behind them. By this point, most of them already have enough socks and ties to outfit a boy scout troop so don’t even think of going there. Well, how about some free software that will help Dad with that computer sitting in the corner of the room?


Skype is a free computer program that will allow your Dad to do something that was once considered the stuff of science fiction. Like the Jetsons, he can keep in touch with his loved ones through video conference technology that will allow him to see their faces as he hears their words. It is a powerful tool to help fight against feelings of isolation and abandonment.

Skype Screenshot

Skype works by transmitting voice and video signals over the Internet. Skype to Skype calls are provided as a free service. Skype is also capable of making calls to normal phone lines though this service has a small fee.


You may remember me recommending this software in my 10 Steps to Better Protect Elderly Loved Ones Online post a couple of weeks ago; it is one of the most important tools that the Elderly can use to help prevent identity theft while making computer use more convenient.

KeePass is a free open source password manager, which will help your Dad manage his passwords in a secure way. Best of all, he’ll only need to remember a single master password or select a key file to unlock the encrypted database holding the other passwords.

Google Earth

Google Earth is a visual globe, map, and geographical simulation program that will allow your Dad to see the world and beyond. It features a variety of modes including the default 2-D flat view, a 3-D augmented view, a flight simulator, a street view featuring real photographs, and more! It’s possible to view famous locations, study the ocean floor, and even take tours of cities all with this free software.

Los Angeles from Google Earth

3D View of Los Angeles in Google Earth


Miro is a ‘Internet Television’ and Media Player that will allow your Dad to watch all of his favorite shows from Hulu, YouTube, and other sites without all the fuss or frustrating loading times. It’s quick, simple, and easy. Not only that, it can play almost any sort of media file allowing him to watch the ‘avi’ file his brother sent him and without being told to download a new codec.


If your Dad has poor eyesight, JAWS will make his computer accessible to him again. This popular screen reader was developed for computer users whose vision loss prevents them from seeing screen content or navigating with a mouse. JAWS provides speech and Braille output for the most popular computer applications on your PC. A computerized voice will read text and guide your Dad through Menus and Programs, making it a good aid for those with poor eyesight and an essential tool for the blind.

That’s 5

I almost included Google Calendar, Google Reader, iTunes, VLC Media Player, and Geni. Think of anything I missed? Please let me know in a comment.

How to Get the Most Life out of your Adult Bibs

All cloth will eventually grow worn and need to be replaced. Tough adult bibs, even those that are machine washable and dryable, will eventually need to be replaced but there are things you can do to help them last longer!

Caring Instructions for Adult Bibs

  1. Do not use fabric softener, while this makes the bib softer and fluffier it actually reduces its absorption.
  2. Always dry bibs on a Low Heat setting to avoid extra wear and tear; air dry when you can.
  3. The hotter the water, the more wear and tear on the bib. Wash bibs in Cold Water, modern detergents are designed to clean fabric even without hot water.
  4. Launder bibs only when you need to, this will cut back on wear and tear.

This is an excerpt from, an informative site for Adult Clothing Protectors.

Aging and Malnutrition

Proper Nutrition is essential for physical, social, and psychological well-being. Disturbingly, numerous studies show that malnutrition is common among the elderly. Essential Vitamin and Mineral deficiency plague many older adults. Another common problem is diminished calorie intake that leaves older adults without the energy their body needs to fully function.

There are many reasons that older adults are more susceptible to malnutrition, some common causes are listed below.

  • Diminishing Sense of Taste and Smell
  • Inability to Chew
  • Medication Interference
  • Depression
  • Income Restrictions
  • Inability to Shop or Cook
  • Physical and Mental Illness

If you are a caregiver for a family member who may not be receiving adequate calories or nutrition to stay healthy, there are ways to help.

  • Periodically inspect their refrigerator and cupboards to determine if adequate food is available.
  • Assist with preparing meals and leave enough for easy to re-heat leftovers.
  • Provide Nutritional Supplements between meals, such as Nestlé Boost® Nutritional Energy Drinks (check with your physician before changing or altering dietary intakes)
  • A more “taste-enticing” option may be to offer Boost® Nutritional Pudding Cups, available in Vanilla, Chocolate, and Butterscotch flavors.
  • Meals on Wheels”: A non-profit organization that delivers home-cooked meals during the day for those aged 60+ who require assistance. To find out more information on this service and locate a meals-on-wheels provider in your area, please visit their web site at