Archive for the ‘Living at Home’ Category

Baby Boomers Increasing as Caregivers

Monday, July 9th, 2012 by admin

Approximately 43.5 million adult children over the age of 50 – America’s baby boomer generation – are caring for their aging loved ones, reports the Family Caregiver Alliance. Many of these boomers are squeezed between facing their own health needs and the need to still work and actively provide the best care for their parents and other loved ones. About 10,000 U.S. baby boomers reach age 65 every day, and as people live longer, this generation may be the first to care equally as long for parents as for children.

A 2011 AARP Public Policy Institute study found that in 2009 the average caregiver was a 49-year-old woman who worked outside the home while investing nearly 20 hours per week in unpaid care for her mother. A MetLife study revealed that the total estimated aggregate lost wages, pension and Social Security benefits of adult caregivers of parents is nearly $3 trillion. But the toll on the new normal of boomers as caregivers is more than financial. Countless boomers are just not prepared for the physical and emotional impact of assisting their older loved ones.

“Family caregiving is becoming more and more commonplace for baby boomers,” said Walter Ochoa, President, Right at Home Brooklyn. “Some loved ones need more personal day-to-day care, while others only need occasional help living independently. The key is finding the right resources to match the needs of both loved one and caregiver.” Right at Home is a leading provider of in-home companion and personal care to senior citizens and other adults.

The best time to plan for care needs of parents and older loved ones is before the person’s health or living situation reaches a crisis mode. Here are suggestions for assisting with personal care and/or financial resources:

  • Talk together as a family about long-term care and a senior’s preferences and goals.
  • Consider modifying the loved one’s home with handrails, chairlifts, etc. instead of moving him or her into a care facility.
  • Discuss finances and insurance needs openly, referring to an elder law attorney, financial planner or other geriatric care support when needed.
  • To ease the load of caregiving, consider home care companies like Right at Home, which can provide everything from transportation and homemaking to hygiene care and skilled nursing.
  • Be sure the senior has an advance care directive, which includes a durable power of attorney that gives someone legal authority to make financial decisions on behalf of the senior. A health care proxy also is needed to allow someone to make medical treatment decisions for the loved one, and a living will details plans for end-of-life care.

 Because boomers are the “sandwich generation,” faced with the challenges of elder/parent care and helping their own children, caregiver professionals advise the boomers pay special attention to their own health and energy reserves. A MetLife 2010 study on working caregivers found that among female caregivers 50 years and older, 20 percent reported signs of depression. Boomer caregivers who simultaneously juggle work and raising adolescent children or young grandchildren encounter an increased risk for chronic illness, decreased emotional health and the abuse of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. To keep a healthy balance in life, caregivers are encouraged to:

  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Eat nutrient-rich foods and drink extra water.
  • Make room for exercise several times a week.
  • Keep up-to-date on your own medical and dental appointments.

 Caregiving can be both a rewarding personal experience and a stressful demand. Boomers who plan ahead and talk through care options with their loved ones will be better prepared when a slowed stage of life comes knocking. Knowing a senior is safeguarded and content in his or her physical surroundings is truly a gift to any caregiver, especially those approaching their own mature years.

Right at Home of Brooklyn provides services, support and resources to older adults and offers a list of the “Top 10 Things to Discuss With Your Parents” to help boomers and caregivers of any age better assess the needs of their aging loved ones. Visit under About You for these helpful discussion topics.

About Right at Home of Brooklyn

The Brooklyn office of Right at Home is a locally owned and operated franchise office of Right at Home, Inc., serving the communities of New York City. For more information, contact Right at Home of Brooklyn at , 347-554-8400 or by email at

Autism: Making “Sense” of the World

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012 by admin

Every day, thousands of people are affected by Autism.  Autism is a disorder that can affect an individual’s ability to interact with others and engage in their environment.  Many children with Autism have difficulty perceiving and interpreting sensory input around them.  From the moment we wake up until we go to sleep, we receive information through our senses.  The way our brain makes sense of this information effects the way we respond to certain experiences.  If we perceive something to be harmful, we avoid it.  If we perceive it as being enjoyable, we are more likely to engage in it.  For children with Autism, this can be a big problem.  This inability to make sense of their world interferes with their ability to interact with others and engage in their environment appropriately.  As a result, they may exhibit adverse behaviors such as tantrums, outbursts, avoidance, and ultimately seclusion.  This can limit the opportunities the family has to bond with their child.  There is a way to help these children cope with these environmental stressors and decrease the occurrences of these adverse reactions.  Modifying one’s home to include a “sensory room” is one effective way.  The sensory room is tailored to the individuals needs and can be used to relieve and/or help the person cope with these involuntary responses to certain stimuli.  It contains various stations with specific sensory equipment and activities that are “less threatening” to the child.  The room is inviting and relaxing; it helps soothe and calm the person.  Some examples of things found in a sensory room are: bean bags; fiber optic/ led lights; bubble tubes; vibration/ massage chairs; ball pit; swing; sensory stations with various textures; calming wall colors; music station; and child- friendly padded floors and/ or walls.  We as Occupational Therapists specialize in and are knowledgeable in this area.  We evaluate the child and their living environment; as well as, provide helpful suggestions to keep your child safe and independent while at home.  Adapting the environment to include a sensory room would give you and your child the opportunity to bond more and enable your child to interact more freely in his environment. 

 April was National Autism Awareness month.  In light of that, we decided to take the opportunity to educate the public on how home modifications can be used to help make your home more user- friendly for your autistic child by including a sensory room.  If you have any questions about how to cope with the adverse effects of sensory processing or modifying your home to include a sensory room, feel free to give us a call.


Esther Gonzalez, M.S. OTR/L Bil TSHH
Adapting Spaces, LLC

Dementia Care: Dealing with Mood Swings and Behavioral Outbursts

Monday, April 23rd, 2012 by admin

One of the most detrimental effects of dementia related conditions are mood swings and other behavioral changes. Dementia is not a single condition, but a non-specific illness diagnosed based on a set of signs and symptoms. Depending on the areas of the brain that are affected by this condition, the individual may display memory, cognitive, motor,  perceptual and information processing deficits.  An individual with dementia may perceive and process environmental information in a distorted manner which can bring about erratic behavior. For instance, they may have a heightened sense of smell and perceive smells as too strong and irritating.  Here are some helpful tips to make your home more comfortable and enjoyable for an individual with dementia.


It is very important to keep all areas of the house well lit since bright lights that can cause glare and poorly lit areas can create shadows and may be misperceived.

  • Use combination lighting and wall mounted light fixtures.


Attempting to regulate noise levels in New York City, may be a challenge but it can be accomplished. Loud and constant noise is very irritating, especially to someone with dementia.

  • Seal crevices and cracks around baseboards, windows and doors to reduce sound levels.

Air quality:

Strong smells are very irritating and increased humidity may increase the potential for mold formation which can become a health hazard.

  • Eliminate or control the source of air pollution, garbage, pets, perishable foods.
  • Keep windows open when weather permits.


Keep home warm during the winter months and cool during the summer months.

  • Make sure the thermostat is working properly and is set at a comfortable temperature.
  • Make sure air conditioners are in working condition.
  • Install a temperature sensor  

I hope that these tips are helpful. If you would like to learn more ways on how to modify your home in order to reduce or manage mood swings and behavioral outburst in people with dementia, please give us a call at 1-888-956-0077.


Miller Calberto, MS, OTR/L, CAPS
Senior partner
Adapting Spaces, LLC

23 simple adaptations to help people with dementia stay at home.

Monday, March 26th, 2012 by admin

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 70 percent of people with dementia and related conditions are currently living at home.  New York City is a place where due to its overpopulation and vertical construction style, caring for a loved one with dementia can be a real challenge. There are ways to improve the living space to make the client with dementia more comfortable and safer at home.


Against popular belief, wandering is good for people with dementia and should not be prevented or limited.  It keeps them active and can help prevent other issues such as constipation. Wandering can be done in a safe way inside the home by taking simple steps. Assuming that all the rooms are on the same floor, as is often the case in New York City apartments.

  1. Walkways should be clear of any clutter and furniture. It is also important to keep in mind not to completely change the familiar look of the living space.
  2.  The doors for the rooms that you wish to keep the client from going into should be closed at all times.
  3. Doors should not be so obvious in appearance and their colors should blend in with that of walls.
  4. Make sure to place a chair near the rooms or in the hallway, so that the client can take frequent breaks.
  5. Minimize the use of mirrors around the home as this can make the client confused.
  6. It is ideal to install a passive alarm system that will quietly monitor the client’s routine around the house or apartment and will alert you if something changes.  The Grand Care system can do this for you.
  7. In the event that the client makes it out of the house, make sure to have a plan B. This plan should include having recent pictures of the client that shows what clothes he/she is wearing and a list of places the client frequently goes to.


Hygiene and Self-care

  1. As a rule of thumb, it is very important to try to simplify daily activities. By assisting the client in performing these activities you are encouraging them to become more independent.
  2. The pathway from the bedroom to the bathroom should be clear of any clutter or items that the client can trip over.
  3. Place reminders that illustrate where the bathroom is located.
  4. It is also important that the toilet and faucet are user-friendly. Toilet should be at a comfortable height and faucet should clearly display hot and cold water.
  5. Make sure to install a cold/hot water mixing valve to maintain water temperature consistent.
  6. Try to provide the client with comfortable clothes that will be easy for him/ her to put on and take off.
  7.  Another helpful hint is to take out a few outfits and give them to the client to choose.  Limiting the choice will make it easier for the client and/or caregiver to decide on what to wear. If the client is still able to make this decision on their own it is important to encourage them to do so.


Mealtime and Medications

  1. It is important to maintain a routine that will serve as a consistent reminder that it is mealtime.
  2. As the condition progresses, avoid providing the client with forks. Instead give them a spoon for safety purposes.
  3. Set up for mealtime by placing items in the same location all of the time. For example, if you use a tray place the food, beverages, and utensils in the same spot every time.
  4. Avoid having decorative items that look like food around the house.
  5. Proper seating and positioning is also critical during mealtime to avoid aspiration (food going down the windpipe into the lungs).
  6. Always make sure that the client has swallowed all of their food and/or medication as dementia clients tend to pocket food and medication which may lead to other medical issues.
  7. It is also important that dementia clients take their medications consistently. A pillbox is always helpful in this situation. Simply make sure that you choose a specific location within the client’s reach. 
  8. Set reminders that will help the client remember to take their medication. 
  9. Make sure to establish a system that will ensure that the client actually takes them. The Grand Care system can also help you with that.

These are very simple and very specific ideas that can be implemented in order to keep dementia patients comfortable and safer at home and avoid unnecessary and premature institutionalization. Next time we will continue with another set of great ideas to improve the dementia clients’ quality of life while at home.


Miller Calberto, MS, OTR/L, CAPS
Senior partner
Adapting Spaces, LLC

Home Modifications in the Media

Monday, March 5th, 2012 by admin

More and more the need for seniors to stay safe at home is becoming more prominent.  Occupational therapists are specialized in the area of seniors and home modifications.  Awareness is growing and now the media is becoming more conscious of the importance of seniors living more independently and safely at home.  Home modifications can range from something as simple as changing a light bulb to something as complex as installing a chair lift.  Occupational therapists have the educational background and working experience to effectively deliver this type of service and more research- based evidence is being complied to prove it, please watch video to learn more…


Miller Calberto, MS, OTR/L, CAPS
Senior partner
Adapting Spaces, LLC

Keeping aging parents and older adults safer at home.

Saturday, February 18th, 2012 by admin

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times talks about this impending challenge. The article talks about the growing dilemma that children with aging parents face when choosing between their parents safety vs. their autonomy. The article also provides suggestions and strategies to keep aging parents safe at home. One of the main suggestions highlighted by this article is to hire an occupational therapist to inspect the house to make it safer to live in. If you have aging parents or if you care about the safety and well being of seniors, read more.


Esther Gonzalez, MS, OTR/L, Bil TSHH
Adapting Spaces, LLC

8 simple ideas to improve contrast perception for low vision clients while living at home

Saturday, February 11th, 2012 by admin

Aging reduces an older adult’s ability to discern objects against a background of a similar or related color; this is called contrast.  Several factors are involved in the decline of contrast perception; such as, structural changes in the cornea or lens, diminished sensitivity to retinal receptors, and illness/disease associated with the eye (i.e., Cataracts, Corneal Disease, Glaucoma, and Retinal Pathology).  Examples of how contrast impacts older adults on a daily basis are: the cut out edge of a curb; gray concrete steps without a clearly marked edge; or stairs with carpeting that have a confusing pattern.   Individuals with vision loss can find it very difficult to distinguish between colors and detect differences between light and dark areas.  For this reason, opposites such as black and white offer the best contrast.  Contrasting a dark color against a light one such as, blue against white and yellow against violet, is more effective than orange against red because they are too close to each other in the color spectrum to provide enough contrast.  When evaluating an individual with vision loss, it is important to account the following environmental factors: kitchen, living room, bathroom, bedrooms, hallways, and entry points.  Here are some ways that color and contrast can be used to improve contrast perception while at home:

     1.   Solid bright colors such as red, orange, and yellow are easier to see.

     2.   Lighting can influence the perception of color. Dim lighting can make some

            colors more difficult to see; whereas, bright lights can intensify them.

     3.   Colors can also be used for safety purposes as an indicator of change in surface or

           level such as on steps or doorway thresholds.

      4.   Color and contrast can help with judging depth perception.

      5.   Increasing the contrast between an object and its background will make the object

           more visible.

     6.   Signage (i.e., names and numbers on doors)

     7.   Furnishings (i.e., patterns of fabric)

     8.   Solid bright colors such as red, orange, and yellow are easier to see

The above recommendations may facilitate ease of movement around the living environment and minimize/ prevent personal injuries while at home.

By Esther Gonzalez, MS, OTR/L, Bil TSHH


Monday, January 23rd, 2012 by admin

Blindness or low vision affects approximately 1 in 28 Americans older than 40 years (Eye Disease Prevalence Research Group, 2004). It is important for these individuals to have the best lighting conditions wherever they are in order to maximize their vision.  Proper lighting is essential if you experience vision loss.  A good light source can make a dramatic effect on how you perform various activities of daily living such as reading, writing, and food preparation.  It can help you improve your independence and maintain your personal safety while at home.  When considering lighting, it is important to be able to manage or control the quality and quantity of light in your environment.  There are 5 different types of light with distinct characteristics.  Each one has advantages and disadvantages for individuals with vision loss.

1)      Sunlight:

  • The most natural source of light.
  • Can be used while performing any activity.
  • May create a glare problem or shadows.

2)      Incandescent:

  • Light bulbs used primarily for lamps and ceiling fixtures.
  • It is constant light that does not flicker.
  • Can be used for close work activities such as reading, knitting, sewing, etc.
  • May create a shadow or glare spot and uses more heat/ energy.

3)      Fluorescent:

  • Used primarily for ceiling fixtures.
  • Provides better lighting for a wider surface area.
  • Does not create a shadow effect and uses less energy.
  • Light can flicker and can not be dimmed as easily as a incandescent light.

4)      Combination:

  • Incandescent and fluorescent light.
  • Can be used for both illuminating a wide area of space and for close work tasks.
  • May require specialized lighting fixtures which can be expensive.

5)      Halogen:

  • More concentrated than the incandescent light bulbs and is usually used in lamps and recessed ceiling fixtures.
  • Gives good illumination and is more energy efficient than incandescent light bulbs.
  • It is not recommended for prolonged close work because the light is hotter.


Miller Calberto, MS, OTR/L, CAPS
Senior partner
Adapting Spaces, LLC


Monday, January 9th, 2012 by admin

As we age, our ability to see diminishes overtime making it more difficult to perform daily routines. In some instances, there are individuals that have been severely affected by their vision loss. Thus, being unable to live both safely and independently while at home.

The “New York City Housing Stock” has come of age and most of it was built before the American Disability Act became a reality. The majority of houses and apartments in the New York City area do not provide suitable living conditions for seniors and individuals with visual impairments. In the next series of blogs, we will briefly discuss how “lighting” and “contrast” can be used to adapt the home environment for individuals with low vision in order to make it safer and user-friendly. One prevalent issue in most consumers’ homes is the lack of contrast in their kitchens. I am always confronted with the “typical” white walls, light colored countertops, and white/ natural wood colored cabinets… I am sure you get the picture. The following suggestions will improve safety and functionality in the kitchen area:

1. Create a contrast between glassware and cookware utilized in the kitchen and the backsplash wall.

2. Stick to solid colors and avoid patterns.

3. Use combination lighting and avoid overhead fixtures.

4. Create color contrast between the floors, walls, and cabinetry.

5. Avoid materials or surfaces that readily reflect the light source causing glare.


Miller Calberto, MS, OTR/L, CAPS
Senior partner
Adapting Spaces, LLC

Holiday Season Safety Tips

Monday, December 5th, 2011 by admin


More than 80,000 people a year need hospital treatment for injuries such as falls, cuts and burns during the holiday season.

The holiday season is a time of joy when friends and family members come together to celebrate. However, large crowds, gifts, decorations and alcohol can be the perfect recipe for disaster at home. That is why we have compiled these safety tips so that you can enjoy a happy and safe celebration.

A Safer Kitchen: 

    • Use step stools/ ladders that have a rubber surface on each step to prevent falling 
    • Place anti-slip mats in front of the sink that are securely anchored to the floor
    • Place a small table in the kitchen to allow for easy access when performing cooking activities 
    • Place a chair in the kitchen to allow for frequent rest breaks  
    • Use oven mitts with rubber tips on them to prevent dropping hot objects
    • Use an adjustable stove top guard to prevent burns
    • Use a timer as a reminder to turn off the stove 


Safe and Easy Holiday Decorating:  

    • Buy pre-lit trees  
    • Fasten loose electric wires to walls
    • Remove or firmly anchor area rugs to the floor
    • Use automatic light timers to avoid leaving lights on. They are available for both indoors and outdoors. 
    • Roll up excess electrical cords and keep them away from high traffic areas. Do not run electrical cords under rugs.
    • Never keep an extension cord plugged in when it is not in use.
    • Inspect holiday lights and extension cords before decorating. Replace any that are fraying or damaged.
    • Use shatter-proof ornaments 

Please take a moment to click the link below and watch video.

Holiday decorating hazards


Miller Calberto, MS, OTR/L, CAPS
Senior partner
Adapting Spaces, LLC