Home Designs For Life: Remodeling Ideas To Increase Safety, Function, And Accessibility In The Home.

Episode 29: Senior Safety Advice with Esther Kane

October 30, 2022 Janet Engel, OT/L, CAPS
Home Designs For Life: Remodeling Ideas To Increase Safety, Function, And Accessibility In The Home.
Episode 29: Senior Safety Advice with Esther Kane
Show Notes Transcript

Esther Kane and Robin Shiltz co-founded the website seniorsafetyadvice.com. Esther is a retired occupational therapist and Senior Safety Specialist. Their website is focused on helping seniors age in place and live life to the fullest. They have published over 800 articles in the past four years and also have a YouTube channel. Please listen to my episode with Esther Kain to learn more about you can stay connected and receive invaluable information from seniorsafetyadvice.com


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[00:00:00] Janet: And today I'm happy to introduce Esther Kane. She is a retired occupational therapist and she is also the co-founder of a website by the name of senior safety advice.com. Along with her friend, Lifelong Friend, Robin Shilts. And they started this website in 2019 and it is one of the most visited websites that provides education on senior safety.

[00:00:31] Janet: Esther, thank you for being with us today. 

[00:00:34] Esther Kain: Oh, thank you for having me. Thank you. Yes. 

[00:00:38] Janet: I'm so glad that I met you. So I wanna tell our listeners how we were I. So we have a friend in common, she's an interior designer and she is redoing Esther's house. And she said, You know, you have to meet this friend of mine.

[00:00:53] Janet: She's a therapist, and she writes like you, and she talks a lot about [00:01:00] seniors in the home. And so I was dying a meet her and then we met at a party and I find out that she's a retired ot, so I couldn't believe it . So we became instant friends. . That's true, 

[00:01:13] Esther Kain: that's true. You have so much in common.

[00:01:16] Esther Kain: Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:01:17] Janet: We're both from South Florida. And yeah. Well, I'm Hispanic. Esther was born in Venezuela, but she is not Hispanic. She's Italian descent. 

[00:01:27] Esther Kain: Yep. Yeah, 

[00:01:29] Janet: so hundred percent. And we live only like five minutes away from each other, . So it's amazing. . 

[00:01:35] Esther Kain: No, it's tense. But 

[00:01:35] Janet: yeah. So Esther, tell us about your website, Senior safety advice.com.

[00:01:43] Esther Kain: All right. Well being a retired occupational therapist, I specialized in geriatric. Mostly neurological, you know, neurological issues like head injury, strokes, Alzheimer's, dementia, those types of issues. And I did that for [00:02:00] many years down in south Florida, here in Georgia, and then also up in North Carolina.

[00:02:06] Esther Kain: So and then I, I went on to another field after I retired. I went on. Web design and internet marketing. So now that I'm very close to retirement age, I wanted to continue working, but I didn't quite know what to do to continue working. And my friend and I, we've known each other for forever, since junior high.

[00:02:31] Esther Kain: My friend Robin we decided that why don't we put our knowledge base together to, in, on a website, you know so my OT background. Her background is a dental hygienist working with geriatric patients, and then also both of our experiences caring for our elderly parents. Combine all of that along with my internet marketing skills [00:03:00] on a website, and that's how senior safety advice came about.

[00:03:04] Esther Kain: And our goal really with the website is not only to. Seniors and then also the adult children and family members who are taking care of those seniors. But also to give us a sense of purpose and duty really in our retirement. Years, you know, we didn't want our retirement to be just, you know, sitting in the rocking chair, watching the world go by.

[00:03:30] Esther Kain: Although Robin has ideas of traveling, but I don't so we thought that this is a great way to spread the word, get information and not only for others, but for ourselves as well. we you know, officially become seniors. Right. So that's how senior safety advice was actually born.

[00:03:52] Esther Kain: We started out with, you know, obviously, you know, you start off with one article and we just hit our 800th article. [00:04:00] 800 wow. 800 articles on the website and the amount of information is just it's never ending. Well, I mean, there's over 10,000 people every single day turning 65. Until, I think 20, 35.

[00:04:18] Esther Kain: So it's going, Yeah. It's a demographic that that's going to be, you know, needing service for a very long time. And also because technology is so prevalent nowadays, the number of technological things that are coming. To help seniors, you know, like, like your article and podcast on the you know the refrigerators, the smart refrigerator.

[00:04:48] Esther Kain: Just, it's amazing what's coming out. You know I'm convinced that we're gonna be, you know, our nurses  and our nursing homes are gonna be robots. I'm just convinced that's gonna happen. Yeah, because [00:05:00] there's gonna be a lack of care. So that's part of the statistics that there aren't gonna be enough caregivers for people to hire to help them age in place.

[00:05:11] Janet: And so we're gonna have to rely on technology. 

[00:05:13] Esther Kain: Exactly. Absolutely. So why not start doing that now? Because the older you get, the harder it is to learn something new. Yeah. So as soon as you can incorporate it into your life the. Right. Anyway, But that's how senior safety advice got started, so, So yeah.

[00:05:31] Esther Kain: Any of yours? Want to check us out? Just go on up. Senior safety advice.com. 

[00:05:37] Janet: So Esser, tell me about your certification. Yeah. Cause I know both you and Robin have a certification to that makes you you know, a. Person of authority in this matter. 

[00:05:52] Esther Kain: Right. Because I had retired from occupational therapy after a few years, I had gave up my license.

[00:05:59] Esther Kain: [00:06:00] Cause I, I knew I wasn't going back, so I gave that up. So when we, but you know, but still the training is there. You can't break that away. It's like taking the girl out of Brooklyn, but you can't take Brooklyn out of a girl. So I still had that knowledge. But you know, like anything you wanna refresh your course, you want to, you know, make sure that you know, things hadn't changed too much.

[00:06:25] Esther Kain: So Bo and Robin, of course, doesn't have that background, so we decided to go ahead and get ourselves certified. As senior home safety specialists. And basically that is a course where you go through and there are senior home safety specialists that you can hire to come to your home to basically do what occupational therapists do is to assess the home and to assess how you function in the home.

[00:06:53] Esther Kain: You know are there thresholds that need to be flattened or. so that [00:07:00] you can get through them easier with a walker or a cane or whatnot. You know, how is it easier to get in and out of a bathtub? You know, what equipment could you use? Measuring the doorways to make sure they can accommodate a wheelchairs or certain walkers, even bariatric type of equipment for larger individuals.

[00:07:18] Esther Kain: And all of. So it was great to take that refresher course. For me, it was a refresher and for Robin it was, you know, new training, but it was great. So you, we get re-certified in that every few years. A senior home safety specialist training, which is definitely wasn't around when I was in OT years ago, so I'm glad that they're expanding that little piece of OT to other.

[00:07:47] Esther Kain: You know, other peoples who, other, who want to start their own business at home, right? Something like that. So yeah, I encourage anyone that, if they want that type of assessment in their home, to look to see if there is [00:08:00] that type of person, a senior home safety specialist near them. Okay. 

[00:08:04] Janet: Well that's great.

[00:08:05] Janet: And you told me that you are working on another certification for specifically for people with dementia. 

[00:08:13] Esther Kain: So tell me about that. We, yeah, we're working on a, it's a 40 hour training to become a certified dementia care. Caregiver and it's it's by Healthcare Interactive. It's very, it's a pretty intense course.

[00:08:28] Esther Kain: But it's great. It goes over. Pretty much every aspect you can possibly imagine as far as caring for someone with dementia. You know, while I'm in the middle of that course, and while I'm taking it, I'm actually thinking to myself, this would be a wonderful course for family members who are caring for their loved ones with dementia, because it's so confusing to them to see the person that they love, but at the same time, it's not the person.

[00:08:59] Esther Kain: That they [00:09:00] knew. And that was the same issues that we used to go through when I worked with patients with head injury. You know, the family members would see their loved one there, they could see them, they looked the same but they acted differently. They thought differently. And things were actually quite different, obviously, because the brain is now functioning differently.

[00:09:21] Esther Kain: And it's the same with dementia and it's honestly more difficult for the family. And loved ones than it is for the patient themselves at certain times. But it's a great course. So yeah, so we're in the midst of that and hopefully we'll be done with that soon and, , you know, we can then, and I'm already taking some of the information that I'm learning from that course and putting it going back to some of our articles that we've written about dementia and including that updated information in there.

[00:09:52] Esther Kain: Okay, 

[00:09:52] Janet: great. I was about to ask you, that was my next question is how are you going to change your website or [00:10:00] how are you going to use this new information? In your website to educate your 

[00:10:05] Esther Kain: readers? Yeah. Cause they this healthcare interactive this entire course goes by They, they model, they call it the CARES model.

[00:10:16] Esther Kain: So it's basically about, you know CARES stands for, you know, connecting with the person assessing their behavior, responding appropriately, evaluating what works, and then sharing that information with others. And, you know, and this is all done in the, in, in every single interaction, whether you are helping that person to eat or go to the bathroom.

[00:10:41] Esther Kain: How to communicate with them, how to respond to them. So so yeah, so all of those little tidbits are great, especially when it comes to communicating and how to communicate with someone with dementia. I have an article on my website that I [00:11:00] wrote about how to talk to someone with dementia because we're so used to talking to each other like.

[00:11:06] Esther Kain: But someone, depending of course, on what level, you know, what stage of dementia they're in, they would never be able to follow right. This you know, lengthy talk. They need everything much shortened, but much shortened. That didn't sound right, but you know what I mean.  So it's a fascinating course.

[00:11:18] Esther Kain: It's great. So I'm very happy that we we took it. Yeah. 

[00:11:24] Janet: Yeah, it sounds great. I did a podcast on how long can someone with dementia live alone safely? 

[00:11:31] Esther Kain: Yeah. 

[00:11:32] Janet: So I think that's, you know, unfortunately some people are moved out of their home too early, and then other people are left to live alone for too long.

[00:11:43] Janet: Right. So 

[00:11:44] Esther Kain: yeah, it goes both ways. It does. Yeah. It's hard to tell. It's like timing the stock market. It's a little tough, but there are some telltale signs as you know, for sure. But it's also hard for the family to admit that it's happening, you know [00:12:00] it's difficult all the way around it.

[00:12:01] Esther Kain: It's a difficult disease, but, and 

[00:12:04] Janet: I think so much, so many so much time goes by before the person is finally diagnosed. Yeah. You know, you may have a year or two where you know things aren't right, but you don't know exactly what's wrong with that 

[00:12:18] Esther Kain: person. Right. And then for some patients it's scary to go get the diagnosis.

[00:12:24] Esther Kain: They may suspect it, but they don't wanna hear. Yeah. And who can blame them? Yeah, exactly. Yeah. It's it's difficult, but. It's great for us. I'm glad. So I, what I look forward to now is after this course is to do even more articles on dementia Alzheimer's, not just cuz you know, in our website we talk a lot about equipment and tips and, but and all of that is, is great and it's important to make the house safer.

[00:12:45] Esther Kain: But like you said, it's also important to acknowledge what limitations you do have and how to accommodate. . Cause I mean, isn't that what OT is all about? You know, accommodating the environment to [00:13:00] what skills the person has. Right. So I, I always followed that. Yeah. Unless they're teaching OT something different these days.

[00:13:09] Esther Kain: I don't know. 

[00:13:09] Janet: No, that's what I always go back to. That's the foundation is person, environment, task. And so you wanna find the fit right for 

[00:13:19] Esther Kain: those three. Exactly. Yeah. Exactly. 

[00:13:22] Janet: That's our specialty is 

[00:13:24] Esther Kain: OTs . I know. I'm so grateful that I went, that I became an OT because it has, it, it has influenced my life in so many ways, and here I am getting back to it, you know?

[00:13:36] Esther Kain: Used in that training in my later years, and I loved the continuous learning. Yeah. That was another thing that I wanted to do, I wanted to do, so, That would propel me to continue learning. So this, you know, doing this website has just been a perfect fit. So yeah, we also do YouTube videos, which I'm not very good at.

[00:13:59] Esther Kain: My partner [00:14:00] Robin is much better at it than I am so but but we do YouTube videos and we're actually gonna start doing more short videos, so we'll be doing that, but it's doing well. I mean, we have several thousand followers, subscribers on our YouTube videos and, you know, we answer each and every single question that comes through.

[00:14:21] Esther Kain:  It's  it's great. It's great to hear from others who are struggling with whatever issue they have, and if we can help them in any way, what a bonus. 

[00:14:30] Janet: Yeah it's so wonderful just to read all of the good information that you have on your website, and Thank you. Tell us, how many visitors do you have 

[00:14:40] Esther Kain: per month going on?

[00:14:42] Esther Kain: We average about 5,000 per month as of now. You know, we're obviously always hoping that it gets more, you know, bigger and bigger. We have I think about 4,000 subscribers now on. I'm honestly not a hundred percent sure. And then of course, you know, we have followers on [00:15:00] social media.

[00:15:00] Esther Kain: numbers, I don't know that's more Robin's realm, . Than mine. But yeah, over around 5,000 visitors every single month to the site for the last several months. So we'll see how it continues growing. That's 

[00:15:17] Janet: great. And you know, it's just so wonderful that you are putting information out there that is helping a lot of people.

[00:15:24] Janet: It's information that is hard to find in one place and then by doing that you're also helping yourself because you yourself are an older. . And so now you found a second career, well almost going back to your first career , right? Yeah. Because you guys  Esther is also an SEO specialist, right?

[00:15:47] Janet: So that stands for search engine optimization. So she had a second career after she was an occupational therapist, and that is what led her to develop this website cuz she was already very [00:16:00] knowledgeable about how the internet works. , you know  how to make it work for her. 

[00:16:05] Esther Kain: So , right? It was a good way to combine both my knowledge skills, you know, in into one.

[00:16:13] Esther Kain: Yeah it just seemed like a good fit. So we're very grateful and I'm grateful that my partner, you know, that my friend Robin decided to do it with me. Cause yeah, as you know, it's a lot of work. A lot of work. And doing it with someone else made it much easier. I certainly don't think I, I could have gotten to 800 articles by myself by this time.

[00:16:38] Esther Kain: Yeah. So I'm grateful for that. And, you know, it's a good adventure for the both of. We're learning a lot. I mean, Yeah. 

[00:16:46] Janet: Yeah. Well that's great, Esther, it was a pleasure to have you on the show and Oh, thank you. And I wanna tell our listeners to stay tuned because Esther and I are going to be making another podcast [00:17:00] where we're gonna be talking about one of her articles which is Alexa and everything Alexa can do for.

[00:17:09] Janet: As an older adult or maybe if you're a caregiver. How you can program Alexa to help your loved one at home. So Esther, thank you so much for being here today. I really appreciate your time and your knowledge and I just wanna let everyone know that Esther's website, well Esther here, why don't you say it so people can know to find you.

[00:17:32] Esther Kain: Okay, it's senior safety advice.com and you can find us a course on the internet, or you can head on to YouTube and look for senior safety advice there. And either way you'll be able to see us, hear us, and read what we information we've got. We look forward to hear hearing from any of you. And Janet, thank you so much.

[00:17:56] Esther Kain: I appreciate this time with you. 

[00:17:58] Janet: Oh, you're welcome. [00:18:00] Thank you.