Assistive Technology Enhances Independent Living

In my September 13th blog post, Robots: A Good Idea for Caregiving? I stated that I would use a robot as an assistive device just like a cane, walker, or Emergency Response System.  To take that one step further, I would use any type of assistive technology that would enhance my ability to live in my home more independently. 

In a November 17, 2020, Advocate for Mom and Dad post:
Surprise! Mom loves her Echo Dot and often tells me what Alexa said to her that day, Debra Hallisey talks about how Assistive technology can make a huge difference in the life of your elder.

It was just last year that Debra Hallisey was having trouble getting her mother to have an Echo Dot in her home.  (I’m sure many seniors are technology resistant—I know I am!) But with multiple conversations over time—using what Debra describes as the “drip method”—(plus the opportunity to try the device out with a free trial offer), her Mom relented. Debra now reports that the Echo Dot made life so much easier for her mother that she now has three more of them in her home.  It has given her a sense of independence that had slowly eroded over the years as her mobility and health declined.

Debra identifies the several features that her mother loves about the Echo Dot. It allows her to:

  • turn lights on and off by voice command
  • listen to music, the news, and books on tape on the nights she finds it difficult to sleep
  • keep her shopping list
  • serve as a timer
  • remind her to take medications

“I never expected my mother to take to assistive technology like she has and to discover on her own uses that help her which I never envisioned.”

Assistive Technology Can Give Your Elder Independence and Help Social Isolation – Advocate for Mom & Dad (

The lesson in this for me and I hope you, is that our elders can change and adapt to technology when they find a reason to use it and especially when it makes their life easier or helps to keep them engaged.

Debra Hallisey

Excuses Used to Avoid Caregiving–Revisited


I recently read the November 10, 2020, article:

Upon reading the article, I thought to myself:  Caregiving really is a timeless topic.  I have blogged about this before. So, I did a little exploring and—yep—I had.  On March 2, 2014, I posted It’s in the Book! It featured Carol Bradley Bursack’s article:  TOP 3 EXCUSES FROM SIBLINGS WHO DON’T HELP WITH CAREGIVING.

Although the three excuses listed in each article are not duplications, the general point is the same.  As stated in the DailyCaring article: Caregivers need more help and support. Many caregivers take on more responsibility for their older adult than others in their family. In AARP’s 2020 report, half of all family caregivers said that nobody else provided unpaid care. Caring for an older adult by yourself can be exhausting and damaging to health. But getting family to help is often a challenge. Getting a better understanding of why family members aren’t doing their part helps you find ways to get them to participate in caregiving.


  1. They think you don’t need any help
    It may look like you’ve got everything under control and don’t need help. Those who aren’t involved in day-to-day care have no idea of how much caregiving entails.
  2. They don’t know how to help
    They respond better to requests and to assigned specific tasks.
  3. They’re scared of doing a bad job
    Firsthand experience is more effective.
    More exposure = more comfortable


  1. I don’t have time
    Probably the most often used excuse implies that you do.
  2. I don’t have the money
    But that does not preclude finding a way to pitch in and help out.
  3. I Can’t Bear to See Mom/Dad Like That
    They think you like it? Day after day you watch the decline. You help them with everything, including very intimate day-to-day functions, such as toileting. Do your siblings think this step has been easy for you? It is difficult to watch a loved one’s decline–but it’s difficult for the caregiver(s), too.

Related and Relevant quotes from What to Do about Mama?

“When the initial alarm sounds, caregivers are filled with worry— maybe even fear. They kick into action to find a solution that will make it “all better.” In the attempt to gain control of the situation they become the caregiver. And things sometimes do get better, adjustments are made, and a new norm is established.  But, inevitably, there is another setback, or more probably, a new crisis. Caregivers may begin to realize that they just might need some help and begin to call on those people they expect to provide that help—family. (There’s nothing like caregiving to learn about our families.)”

What to Do about Mama? p. 174

The issue again is expectations—those you place on yourself. You are only human. You will make mistakes. You will lose patience. Forgive yourself. Use each “shortfall” as a learning experience. Allow yourself to feel and express your emotions; don’t internalize them. Cultivate your connection with family and friends, choosing relationships with positive people and minimizing contact with negative ones. Enlist your family to help. Make a list of all the things you do, and be specific about the help you need.

What to Do about Mama? p. 179

“You don’t understand the pressures of our jobs.”

What to Do about Mama? p. 13

“My mother-in-law’s decline was especially difficult for my brother-in-law; his wife made a point to express this to me very specifically. He had no confidence in his ability to be alone with her. With tears in his eyes, he told me that he saw himself as the “last bastion of propriety” in his relationship with his mother. I did understand how difficult it is to watch a loved one’s decline; his brother, after all, faced it every day. I felt, however, that was not an acceptable excuse for not assuming responsibility.”

What to Do about Mama? p. 15:

The number one recommendation from the caregiver-contributors to this book is to get help. Caregivers tend to step in with their “can-do” attitudes and continue to shoulder ever-increasing responsibility until they reach the point of being crushed by the burden. So, whether you hire help, accept help, or both—just do it!

What to Do about Mama? p. 170


Explore both articles for suggestions how to overcome the excuses relatives use to avoid caregiving so they’ll give you the help you need and deserve.

You Can Now Work a Bit (and Still Enjoy Retirement) with These 4 Career Ideas

A Guest Post by Sharon Wagner

Photo via Rawpixel

Not every senior is ready to retire, and many more seniors need to continue working to earn an income. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of excellent second-career options for seniors who want or need a partial retirement. What to Do About Mama wants you and yours to thrive throughout all phases of life, so read on for more information.

Don’t Discount Remote Work (in a Range of Industries)

Virtual careers are more popular than ever, and the industry of digital work continues to expand with more than 7 million people working remotely — even before the pandemic. Whether you want to work remotely in sales, marketing, accounting, writing, or customer service, there’s an opportunity out there that’s the perfect fit for you.

To start seeking out freelance work, check out senior-friendly freelance job boards. Most job boards exist online and via apps for your smartphone, so you can start your job search from just about anywhere. Of course, you’ll need a comfortable workspace to do your job, and brushing up on work-from-home tools and platforms will also be a necessary part of beginning remote work.

This may sound daunting, but the learning curve isn’t so steep that it’s impossible to learn, and you may be surprised by how much more productive you can be when working from the comfort of your home.

Consider Travel-Based Opportunities Nationwide

Many retired folks aim to travel during their golden years. However, if the need — or desire — for part-time work has you feeling tied down, you have options.

One travel-based job opportunity can be found in campgrounds and RV parks across the United States. Many camping facilities offer free space rent and even compensation packages for campground hosts, also known as “workamping” jobs. You might combine workamping with another part-time opportunity to support your travel habits and semi-retirement.

Plus, national parks and other spots around the US offer part-time work for people of all ages. You can still travel the country while earning an income without heading to state parks. House sitting has also become a popular way to travel the world while making money.

Earn an Income Near Home (In Others’ Homes)

While traveling to work at National Parks and other spots throughout the country is ideal for many seniors, long-distance travel isn’t doable for others. However, if you are seeking flexible working opportunities near you, think about becoming a house or pet sitter.

Many professionals often travel, leaving their pets and homes unattended in the process. As an experienced professional with a career behind them, you can offer clients reliable services and affordable rates and still make an income.

Plus, serial house-sitting can eliminate the need for a mortgage or rental expenses, explains US News. What’s more, you can travel as near or far as you prefer. Many seniors opt to travel the globe during retirement, while others keep a home to return to as necessary.

Think About Your Passions and Start Selling

Some remote opportunities are technically freelance gigs, where you work for companies as an independent contractor. But you can also make your own work by starting a business and connecting with clients in dog walking, house cleaning, nannying, or a range of other positions.

Whatever passion, hobby, or talent you have, marketing yourself in that niche may prove more lucrative than working for someone else. In fact, as Inc. reports, the statistics show that a 60-year-old startup founder is three times as likely to be successful than someone half their age. Whether your goals are small- or large-scale, there’s an audience willing to pay for your expertise — supporting your retirement goals simultaneously.

Make a Point to Prepare

If it’s been a while since you applied or interviewed for a job, understand that the landscape changed significantly. Cover letter and resume styles have grown by leaps and bounds, so it’s crucial to have the right cover letter and resume for the job you’re seeking. When it comes to interviewing, you already know to dress appropriately and plan ahead for potential questions. However, keep in mind that for a remote position, most companies opt for virtual interviews. Ensure you’re set up with a webcam and a microphone.

Working beyond retirement age isn’t for everyone. However, for those older adults who are aiming to give their career a second life, there are endless opportunities available. While some require an adjustment — and a change of perspective — you only need the motivation to pursue your quasi-retirement dreams.

Look to What to Do About Mama for more information for seniors and their caregivers designed to help them thrive.


My husband and I have been struggling with the concept of his retiring for several years. He is 73-years-old, and I am tired of doing this retirement thing alone. Because of COVID-19, he is currently working remotely from home—a compromise situation that allows him to continue working with me being less unhappy about him doing so. The benefits are:

1. Continued income
2. Constructive use of his time, otherwise hampered by COVID restrictions
3. My having him at home so that I am less lonely

The essay I wrote, “Through the Eyes of a Grandmother”, for “After the Pandemic, Visions of Life Post COVID-19” includes a brief mention of working remotely from home.

Thanks for your guest post, which is of such current interest.

Barb Matthews (co-author of What to Do about Mama?)