13. Randy Hunter

Dr. Debi Lynes interviews Randy Hunter about your home safety for any stage in life

(Duration: 33 minutes)


Apple Podcasts | CastBox | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RadioPublic | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn






Lynes on Design


Check your smoke alarms. And don’t ever hesitate to call 911. Better to be safe than sorry.


Debi Lynes (00:03): Hi and welcome to Aging in Place for every stage in life. What if you could visit or have a home that would accommodate anyone at any age, any physical ability at any time? How cool would that be? That’s what we’re doing here at Aging in Place. Why me? Because I’m a doctor of psychology and I specialize in physical spaces in health and wellness. Also, I love designing with intent at any age. Why now? Because we the baby boomers want to age in place gracefully and we want our families around us as much as we can and why you the audience? Because we want you to experience what it’s like to have a home that’s safe, aesthetically pleasing, and that you can live in at any age with any ability at any time. I’d like to introduce you now to Aging in Place Podcast for every stage in life. Hi and welcome to Aging in Place for any stage in life. I am here with Randy Hunter. He is a firefighter and I am thrilled to talk with you. Today we’re going to talk about all kinds of safety, but before we get started, Oh, you grandfather of a six-month-old. Tell us a little bit about your background and what you do now.

Randy Hunter (01:24): So I’ve been in the fire service for 26 years now. I started off as a volunteer rod on the coattails with my dad in a small world department in South Western Pennsylvania.

Debi Lynes (01:36): Oh did you, okay.

Randy Hunter (01:36): So just about an hour South of Pittsburgh. And I knew I wanted to be a firefighter forever since a little kid. Joined the Marine Corps, was a firefighter for the Marine Corps and crash fire rescue. I did that for a short period of time. I got out. I was fortunate enough to get hired in Morgantown, West Virginia, where I spent 10 years as a firefighter there, which is pretty close to where I grew up. So it was a nice working, I just got tired of the winters at times, you know what I mean? So I came down here on vacation one year.

Debi Lynes (02:04): And here is Hilton Head [Island], South Carolina.

Randy Hunter (02:06): Absolutely yes. And here’s the Hilton Head. And I’m loved being down here. I applied for a job with the Bluffton Township Fire District, July 31st of 2008 and I was hired August 7th of 2008 and moved August 9th.

Debi Lynes (02:22): Well, tell me what your role is down here now.

Randy Hunter (02:25): So I was with the training division for the last 11 years. I’ve been recently reassigned to community risk reduction

Debi Lynes (02:31): What is that mean “community risk reduction”?

Randy Hunter (02:33): Well, I mean it is just what it says. We’re here re reducing the risk in the community. But many years ago where I shop until just recently, it’s always been known as fire prevention and that’s what the fire promise that we’ve been there to prevent fires. And we realize now that our overall goal is to reduce any kind of danger to our community, to our citizens. So it’s not community risks. So that goes anywhere from, you know, fire safety to our hurricane to trigger treating, making sure that people have the proper costumes on a barbecue, grilling fireworks, even though we’re not supposed to use them down here in South Carolina killers. Yeah. But that’s what we realize now that we have an ultimate goal of trying to protect our community.

Debi Lynes (03:13): It does seem like the overarching role of the fire department now is just really broad and generalized. I mean, you’re here today talking about Aging in Place and I think the fun part for me is talking about safety in and around your home is what we’re going to focus on today. And even though the podcast is Aging in Place, we’re talking about any stage in life. And that’s what you said when I said, when I said that you had the best comment.

Randy Hunter (03:38): Yeah, we have program. We did, we shouldn’t be looking at it. I don’t exactly know how it’s, I wish I could remember what I said earlier, because I believe.

Debi Lynes (03:44): No that’s exactly what you said.

Randy Hunter (03:44): But we need to be, we have programs from you know, small children to very elderly people. We look at all these different aspects of what they need to learn. Captain Lee Levesque, he’s great at public education. He’s also in the community risk reduction and he is out in schools all the time. Even when he meets with kids all the time about, you know, fire safety don’t be afraid of firefighters. But now we’re broadening that to where we’re going around talking about like we’re going to talk about today, slips and falls and how to talk, how to protect yourself around the home. But I think that’s what makes it so this position now is so interesting is because we are literally out there and when we go places it doesn’t take very long for someone to find out, Oh you at the fire farm. I have a question for you. And then there they are asking this question and how to make things better.

Debi Lynes (04:32): Well, let me ask you a question about how to position this. Initially I was going, do we position this with, again, let’s talk about little kids in the home to older kids or is it better to do sort of a tour of a home, let’s say for you. In other words, when you pull in to a, you get a call, what would be one of the first safety issues going to that call?

Randy Hunter (04:58): When you look at us coming in to some or you know, other organizations maybe like up in Fairfax, Virginia, for example, they have codes that say that you’re building, if it’s a commercial structure, the numbers had to be such and such size. They gotta be contrast. And it’s the same thing for our residents. We want to make sure that when the fire apparatus or EMS or police pull up in front of your house, that it’s clearly marked that what your dresses, you know I knew I put in here, I saw the one.

Debi Lynes (05:24): Right.

Randy Hunter (05:24): Yeah. If it was nighttime, that one outside here is a little bit difficult to see and we just want to make sure that it’s visible.

Debi Lynes (05:31): So you said contrast. What does that mean?

Randy Hunter (05:33): Like if you have a white house, do you want black letters.

Debi Lynes (05:35): Oh, got it.

Randy Hunter (05:36): Yeah. So pretty simple. You know, we just, I didn’t know, maybe I didn’t explain it. He shaking his head, she’s laughing. So maybe, but you want to make sure that if you stand in a road that your house is easily identified from the road when the apparatus in the front boom. They know exactly where they’re at. It

Debi Lynes (05:52): Was funny that you’re talking about that contrast. We had someone talking about new appliances and some of the appliances are actually paying attention to the contrast between the let’s say on the stove between being able to read it with a bigger font and then color contrast so that people can actually see it more clearly and easily. Right. I mean, it was pretty interesting.

Randy Hunter (06:13): And I think no matter what we’re doing. I mean, I just taught a class for fire instructors. We’re talking about making PowerPoints and it’s gonna be contrast, you know what I mean? Just you gotta make it, everything’s gotta be visible. Plant number what we want. We are very visual people and didn’t want to see, know what we’re looking at.

Debi Lynes (06:27): So when you drive in, walk again walking into a home, what do you think of when you think of safety? What are you looking for?

Randy Hunter (06:35): Well I’ve coming from the fire department, our main thing is we hope that every house has working smoke detectors. That’s, you know, captain leave in the back when he’s out there. That’s his smoke detector. Smoke the type of smoke detectors. That’s what you know, we want to see every home have a smoke detector.

Debi Lynes (06:50): How many were, how often do we check them and why? Smoke detector.

Randy Hunter (06:54): Oh well. So after I said repeat it, smoke alarms, it’s allowing us to that they’re smoking house, what we recommend it. So before we get into fall, we want to make sure that, because this can lead down a whole rabbit hole of a thousand different things. So if we want to stick to certain things, we might not want to go down smoke detector or smoke alarms, but we’ll get down a little bit. So what we recommend in houses now, we recommend that people sleep with their bedroom door closed.

Debi Lynes (07:17): Oh.

Randy Hunter (07:17): It’s practically pretty amazing. A fire in a hallway. How much did that door will stop and protect this bedroom? This room right here, for example. Now it’s easy for me to preach that, but I don’t practice that because we have animals and we are not going to lock, my wife’s locked the cats out of the bedroom. Okay. So what we say is if you’ll sleep with, you know, you should have one in the bedroom with your door shut.

Debi Lynes (07:38): In the bedroom.

Randy Hunter (07:38): Yup and then one outside the bedroom cause it’s bad because if a fire starts in here and that door’s closed, you want the smoke alarm to detect it inside this room.

Debi Lynes (07:46): Good point.

Randy Hunter (07:46): If the door’s closed, you want one outside that way for something in the hallway that the smoke is detected out there as well.

Debi Lynes (07:55): Is there a rule of thumb for how many smoke detectors you can have? And I know on Hilton head this house was built in 58 and it’s considered a really old house. But in Pennsylvania and other places relatively.

Randy Hunter (08:06): Well. And you know in Bluffton, yeah, this is [a, I mean ]I’m not saying, but.

Debi Lynes (08:09): It’s an old house, yeah.

Randy Hunter (08:09): A lot of the new smoke alarms are hardwired into them with a battery backup and those batteries are coming based on building code. But what they recommend is, and you kind of caught me off guard with this, but we’re rolling one per bedroom and then they want one outside per floor. Yup.

Debi Lynes (08:28): Okay, that makes a lot of sense.

Randy Hunter (08:29): And where you don’t want a smoke alarm is in your kitchen, whatever. Butter stove. I mean, that’s, you know, I know it’s a joke with the kids about it because even when you’re talking to kids, you make them laugh. And I’m like, well, my wife thinks that’s the foods. But you know, you gotta think about them. We had a hotel built in Morgantown and they installed all the smoke alone right next to the showers. So if someone would have a hot shower, I’m going to open up the shower door. It says the larva every single time. So they had to go back and re on it, you know, and install these, reinstall them. Sometimes people just don’t know, thinking they think smoke, they don’t think

Debi Lynes (09:05): Exactly. What about carbon monoxide? I hear more and more about that.

Randy Hunter (09:10): Very, very important, especially is your house well, well, here’s what we recommend it. My house for example, is all electric. Right? So I have less of a chance from getting carbon monoxide. It doesn’t mean I don’t need one cause it’s amazing. We had a call the other day, A gentleman went in and put into his garage and has a car with a push button, push the button, thought it turned off, got out, was my somewhere else in a car, kept running. So if you wouldn’t have had a carbon monoxide alarm in his house, then he would’ve been in trouble.

Debi Lynes (09:42): Who would have ever thought that? We’re going to have to take a quick break.

Randy Hunter (09:44): Absolutely.

Debi Lynes (09:44): We’re going to come right back. We have a lot more to talk about here with safety and fire and all of those good things. We’re here again with Randy Hunter on the Aging in Place Podcast. Hi, I’m Dr. Debi Lynes. Design elements are psychologically and physically supportive and conducive to health and wellness. To learn more about what lines on design can do for you for more information on certified Aging in Place and facilitative and supportive design, look for us at lynesondesign.com. That’s L-YN-E-S on design dot com.

Debi Lynes (10:22): We are back here on Aging in Place. We are here with Randy Hunter and we are talking about safety. We’re getting ready to talk about your personal favorite thing.

Randy Hunter (10:31): Slips and falls.

Debi Lynes (10:32): Slips and falls at any age, but you said it’s one of the things you deal with older people all the time. Probably your biggest call.

Randy Hunter (10:40): Yeah, a lot of times, you know, I think when we, as we get older, a lot of people don’t want to admit that they need some help. Are they going to have to look? I bought gloves or gloves. I bought glasses the other day and I really was, I pride myself on never needing glasses and all of a sudden I’m like, I buy new glasses. So we look at things like this. I think some of our, the community, we really want to say, look, it’s okay if you start to have a little bit of issues with getting around. We just want to make it safer for you. Everyone wants to live independently. So when we started talking about slips and falls, we want to make sure that you can go around the house and they can kind of look at our home and say, you know what? This is a potential trip hazard. If you have hardwood floors like in here and you have loose rugs, loose rugs are going to make people slip and fall. It’s kind of simple. So we go around and we look and make sure we can move those things around and we don’t want them around anyways.

Debi Lynes (11:29): So wait a minute, you will come in and walk my house with me?

Randy Hunter (11:32): We can absolutely.

Debi Lynes (11:33): Because that would be amazing. I’ve got a one-year-old grandchild, my 91-year-old dad who’s here. It would be so helpful because I think oftentimes I see my house so often, I don’t pay attention. So what, so what are some of the things you said loose rugs that makes sense.

Randy Hunter (11:48): Loose rugs, you want to make sure. So as we get, then you can use this to, for someone to say someone breaks a leg. Okay. And so it’s not just always looking at the elderly. We’re looking at things that are going to make that person get through that house easier. So open concept, make sure that they have an open area to walk there. They’re not going to be bumping into things. I don’t know how many times I get up in the middle of the night and you know, you do something, you pump in, I’ve got a new watch and I don’t know, it feels like it’s 4,000 times bigger. I bump it on every door, you know? But those are things that we look at as we’re going through. Do we have a lamp in a certain area where you really want in here, but the cord sticks out, you know?

Restrooms, excuse me. Restrooms. You know, when you go in and you’re getting in and out of the showers, slips and falls. We should have rubber [matt], you know, some grippy things on the bottom of the shower, the tub, handrails, you know, I mean, those are the little things that we would love to come in. And you know, not necessarily tell people what they need but make those recommendations.

Debi Lynes (12:44): Well, I think that’s what I mean, Aging in Place. I think I would love to have it at any age. I’d love to have somebody come in and share with me areas that were safe and areas that probably could use a little a safety update if you want.

Randy Hunter (12:57): Absolutely. And 90% actually probably 100% of fire departments in our nation. If someone was to call their local fire department, they would be able to come out and do a walkthrough and we do home inspections for fire. We can do home inspectors for safety. When it comes to residents, it’s one of the things where we don’t go around and really, Hey, can we come in? Can we come in here? Because that’s not really that a man’s home is his castle, for example. So that’s all. We can’t really enforce far coats.

Debi Lynes (13:22): But if we could invite you.

Randy Hunter (13:23): Absolutely 100% we will encourage it you know.

Debi Lynes (13:26): When you get calls, do you find that most of the time the slips and falls or in the bathroom or where? Bedroom, bathroom.

Randy Hunter (13:34): We [man] I don’t have those exact numbers, but bathroom, bedroom, that’s where two main.

Debi Lynes (13:39): Oh is it really?

Randy Hunter (13:39): Yeah. And a lot of times someone gets into a, maybe goes to the restroom or something and getting up and saying down based on how they are still have anything to hold onto. So all of a sudden, you know, lowering down, they kind of lose grip. They don’t, some people don’t like that cold floor, so they put that rug there. So now we have two things. Now we’re trying to study ourselves, but then our rug slips out and then all of a sudden they fall down. You know, talking about that again, not trying to get too far off the track here, then stay in and eventually hit a certain point.

Debi Lynes (14:07): I don’t know it’s kind of fun getting off track. It’s really interesting.

Randy Hunter (14:10): But we have, we got to make sure when someone slips and falls we need to make sure that, that we’re checking on our neighbors. Okay making sure that we know our neighbors and make sure you have somewhere to call. If someone falls down, let’s say I fought on the floor and just can’t get up, it actually after so long it actually becomes pre dangerous for them. Yeah, Because the way they lay their it depending on, it can be a very serious health risk. So what we recommend is obviously having some way maybe.

Debi Lynes (14:37): Communicate.

Randy Hunter (14:37): To communicate or just know your neighbors and say, Hey, you know, I haven’t seen Mr. and Mrs. Smith in a while. My wife and I did it the other day. We are a neighbor of ours who we see summer front porch and day in and day out had a little sticky note on his door from a package delivery and my wife combined and she’s like, man, you know, I dunno, so-and-so’s huh. We’ve got packages such been there the next day. It was still in there. So we called our, his, one of his good friends. Do you know where [inaudible] is? And they’re like, Oh yeah, he’s been in Vegas for a month. And we’re like, Ooh, but we, but we pay attention to our neighbors and what they’re kind of doing now because we’re nosy. We’re friendly. Maybe a little nosy too, but you want to know. But you know, if you haven’t seen someone stop in just checking them. You know, everybody wants to see that. And it’s good being a neighbor too.

Debi Lynes (15:27): Do you teach people how to get up if they fall? Do you talk to people about it? Like you come in and someone’s slipped or fallen on the floor and you’re like, Ooh, cause I know because my dad lives with me at 91 that’s, you know that a six foot tall gentleman that weighs 195 pounds, who falls is dead weight.

Randy Hunter (15:47): Oh that’s [an, and ]it is very tough for me to go out, but that’s why when we go, we send the whole engine company because we are going to have three guys and girls to help pick somebody up. Now, the other reason too is if someone falls down, we are going to go and make sure that they’re just not getting need back in a chair. So that makes sense. So make sure they’re not hurt. We’re going to kind of, Hey, you know, and as our firefighters render and they are looking for those types of things, Hey Mr. Smith, we noticed you found this rug again today. Maybe we can just go ahead and take this rug up for you or you know, along those lines. Because but our firefighters are trained to always be vigilant of being able to help.

Debi Lynes (16:23): In other words, not just looking at what’s presenting, but sort of the periphery, what’s going on. Do you find that you enjoy the education and prevention piece of all this? In other words, going in, if you could have seen that rug and had been invited in to kind of take a walkthrough,

Randy Hunter (16:38): Oh, I love doing, I love doing the critical community risk reduction. You know, as a young firefighter, I wanted to go fight fires, which I still do. I still love doing that stuff. I don’t do it anymore. I want the trucks now, but I absolutely 100% love coming and doing something like this. Being able to educate our community. We go into our local retirement community here. I went in the other day and taught a CPR class, the security that runs a committee that oversees the community. But when I was in there, all of the residents saw my department vehicle saw me in uniform and had a thousand questions about everything and I could have sat there all day and talk to him just because I enjoy interacting with the community and to being able to help.

Debi Lynes (17:16): What kind of questions did you find that they were asking you? Which I think is really interesting.

Randy Hunter (17:21): Well, right now a [lot of question] we’re getting is smoke alarms and changing batteries. And when can we help them replace their smoke detectors. So we do a program where we can go out, we’ll help change batteries, but we’re looking for someone that’s not physically. Again, we’re looking at someone from their home by themselves that can’t physically get up on a ladder. So we’ll go out and help and change her batteries. Help replace your smoke alarms. Again, the fire services, one of the things awesome about who we’re talking about. It’s a broad scope, but someone calls us. We never tell them no. You know I mean we have a policy that says we don’t rescue cats out of trees anymore. But sure enough, if someone calls and says, my cat’s in a tree, guess what? We’re going to send an engine company over there and a truck company and they’re going to do what they can. They get that cow tree because we’re the fire department does not tell anybody. No. And we get called for maybe an elderly lady to them by herself or colors overflowing. She does nine one, one. There’s no one else a sense of fire-prone. It’s going to go, but luckily we’re going to go shut the water off. And more than likely we have a plumber or somebody is handy on the engine and they’re like, well, wait a second man. Let’s go ahead, here’s your problem. And they see another fix the problem. And you kind of hear stories about that all through the fire service. And I think that’s one of the things that drives people to be a firefighter.

Debi Lynes (18:37): Oh, I think it’s amazing. I want to talk about two things. I know we have to take a quick break here in just a minute. I’d like to talk about electrical wiring.

Randy Hunter (18:44): Okay.

Debi Lynes (18:44): And just because that for some reason that spooks me a little bit.

Randy Hunter (18:48): Me too.

Debi Lynes (18:48): Right. And then I’d love to talk about fire hazards in the house rooms so they are most likely. I guess my assumption is a kitchen, but let’s talk briefly if we can about electrical wiring.

Randy Hunter (19:04): Right now?

Debi Lynes (19:04): Sure.

Randy Hunter (19:04): Okay. So, well first off, there’s three things that I’m afraid of. Spiders, snakes, electricity, and not mastering any of those three snakes. I’m going a little better with. So if anyone has any questions at all about electricity, first of all, they need to look and see if it’s something with wiring, get a professional, don’t look at it. But when we’re looking to extension cords, we don’t want to overload outlets. We don’t want to have those. You know, my wife actually come home the other day and she’s like, Hey, I bought an extension cord for our new lamp. I’m like, no, we’re not putting [inaudible]. I mean only because it’s a $3 extension cord. It’s not will it catch fire? You never know, but you don’t want to take the chance. You want to get something that’s actually, you know, you want to get an outlet plug directly into the outlet. Those extension cords get really hot, especially if they’re kinked.

Debi Lynes (19:52): That was the point of having an extension cord was to not do that.

Randy Hunter (19:56): Well they have some that are rated better than others and you’re going to have to look on, they have a UL slip on and everything, but those are things. Ideally, you want to use a surge protector and they make them at all lengths. Now that way, if something happens in that quarter is short, it’s going to cut the power and not continue to do it. That’s one of the main things that we want to look at.

Debi Lynes (20:13): We’re going to take a quick break. We’re going to come back and we’re still going to talk about electricity because you’re afraid of it and we can’t talk about dividers or snakes and we’ll go back to that. Stay with us. We’ll be right back.

Henrik de Gyor (20:23): For more podcast episodes, links, information and media inquiries, please visit our website at aginginplacepodcast.com as we transition through life with the comfort and ease you deserve, discover how you can create a home that will adapt to you as you journey through life and the changes it will bring. Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as our host Debi Lynes and her expert guests discuss relevant topics to creating a home for all decades in life. Don’t miss our weekly episodes of Aging in Place. Podcast for every stage in life.

Debi Lynes (21:00): We are back here on Aging in Place. We’re talking to Randy Hunter. We’re talking about electricity in your home. And I would think around the holidays and probably 4th of July are pretty sketchy and dangerous when it comes to house fires on electricity.

Randy Hunter (21:19): Well, especially at Christmas, we have all the what’s called Rizwan say, you know, he’s an expert interior illumination or however, but he look at this stuff and people do, they’re going to run a long extension cords during the holidays and we just got to make sure that we’re, the main thing with learning chords is getting a chord that’s actually rated for what you’re looking. I just purchased myself a surge protector that’s extra long for that reason because our surge protectors are normally that long. You don’t reach my needs your side about a longer one so that if something does happen, it actually has a switch. It’ll [self Oh].

Debi Lynes (21:55): Turn off.

Randy Hunter (21:55): It’ll, yeah,

Debi Lynes (21:57): So if I get a surge protector, I can put my $3 extension cord in it [and then.]

Randy Hunter (22:04): No, I mean the idea would be in theory it should protect it so that that $3 extension cord shorts out the surge protectors should stop that. But the idea would be like my surge protector, I bought a six foot one that kind of extends backwards and no one can see it. And we can plug our lamps into it.

Debi Lynes (22:22): What’s so funny, when we do the podcast at the end, we do takeaways and the takeaway from this is already do not buy a $3. I mean, I didn’t know that. I thought

Randy Hunter (22:31): A lot of people don’t, and I’m not going to, don’t get me wrong, if you look at my garage, there’s probably a $3 corn hanging up there. We try and do the best we can as firefighters to really represent and do practice what we preach. But every once in a while you get somewhere where you just really want that lamp to turn on and all of a sudden. But the idea is that we don’t want to be, we want to try to avoid something like that.

Debi Lynes (22:52): What is the biggest cause of fires in homes in general?

Randy Hunter (22:55): [ are between] cooking and heating. That’s the two biggest fires, right or causes of fires right there. Now actually in the low country here we have a lot of lightning strikes and a summertime we run a ton of lightning strikes. It’s just because of the Pines and all that stuff here. But a lot of our nationwide heating and cooking fires seem to be the main cause of home fires.

Debi Lynes (23:19): What about dryers?

Randy Hunter (23:19): While dryers, the main thing that it causes fires and dryers is going to be the vents being cleaned out, making sure.

Debi Lynes (23:26): What vents being cleaned out?

Randy Hunter (23:28): Yeah you know where the lint traps are or anything like that. You’re a clean nose notice I’m asking where all your podcast, we’re going to turn the ties now. But yeah, so that heats up in there and then when that air can’t flow as it restricts it, then it can’t do what it needs. It doesn’t operate properly and it catches fire. So, you know, when you look at your overall, and like I said, we can talk for four months on safety, but when you’re looking at, you want to follow the manufacturer’s instruction, do you want to stay Virgin on keeping things maintained, clean watching for slips and fall, you know, so there’s a ton of stuff that can be done.

Debi Lynes (24:08): I’ll tell you what scares me the most for myself is you’re gonna flip it is I have a tendency of popping popcorn or doing something and getting distracted. And I’ve burned pot on the stove, which is really embarrassing because I, you know, you don’t think that that’s the deal.

Randy Hunter (24:22): So things happen like that. We were cooking and one time w you know, a lot of people have done that. Again, you get attached track. We were cooking one time at the house and we had a wooden cooking cutting board and I was doing something and needed to counter space and set it off. We have a flat top stove. The stove didn’t even think anything about it. My wife’s like, something’s burning and I didn’t realize that the burners were on and I sitting around on top of the burners. And so people do make mistakes. You know, the idea is that w we all are human. We’re going to do that, but to try and prevent those as much as possible. Now I would not want to come to your house if you were cooking in some, yeah, it’s on the stove.

Debi Lynes (24:59): That would not be good.

Randy Hunter (24:59): You know, but that’s something that we can, you know, again, just trying to stay vigilant.

Debi Lynes (25:05): We had a situation, I, and I would be curious as to how you would handle this. We were in the kitchen about a year ago. You would love this. We were in the kitchen about a year ago and I had was having a meeting and I, and I looked and there were literally swear to you flame shooting out of my dishwasher, my dishwasher.

Randy Hunter (25:23): What was on fire?

Debi Lynes (25:23): The[ top panel. It had been.] I had someone out to fix it the day before and I guess something just so I went to my laundry room and I got my fire extinguisher that was dated 1987 and I went, Ooh, I’m scared to touch it because of all the spider webs. And now that I’ve touched it, I don’t know what to do with it. And the reason I bring that up is fire extinguishers. I mean, it was, there were flames. I, you know, I think you’re going to be wise in what you’re doing, how you handle these situations.

Randy Hunter (25:57): Yeah, absolutely. And you know, so all of these things we’re talking about, you can find them through the nfta.org the national fire protection association. Look, your local fire department, whatever it may be. But like I said, there’s so much stuff we could talk about how a fire extinguisher, make sure it’s dated, make sure you know where it’s at.

Debi Lynes (26:14): Make sure you know how to use?

Randy Hunter (26:16): Yeah, we go into a lot of businesses and everyone’s all excited being, Oh man, we have an AED. And I’m like, Oh, that’s great. Where is it?

Debi Lynes (26:25): And an add for the people.

Randy Hunter (26:26): Oh, an automatic external defibrillator, which is great. They have one, but sometimes other employees don’t know where it’s at, you know? So these safety tips can go into your home, into your place of employment. If you go to a restaurant, there’s are things that just be vigilant and know, you know, what you can do to be safe.

Debi Lynes (26:42): And again, fire extinguishers I think are intuitive to you. You don’t even think about them. But I think too many of us, and I, it’s funny because my kids have no idea and I mean they’re adults, they’re young adults, but I think that they’ve just always been used to growing up with them but not really ever see them.

Randy Hunter (26:58): Yeah. And I, and that’s the way the fire service is going out with the community risk reduction. A lot of our programs, you know, 10 years ago were strictly based a kid stopped op roll, don’t play with fire, whatever it may be. Now we’re realizing that we do have older kids, adolescents and young adults that don’t know how to operate a fire extinguisher. So we, you know, we try to encourage them to come out and learn CPR, first aid, just you name it. We try and educate people in it with the star, anything.

Debi Lynes (27:28): It’s amazing. So people can call no matter where you are in the US or our standards or codes. Pretty, pretty much the same. In other words, are firefighters all trained in CPR?

Randy Hunter (27:39): No. Well, yes, that’s there. I want to say how to say it. So broad question. Yes. All firefighters are trained a certain level of medical. Some fire departments are just the very basic of first aid or what they call an emergency first responder. Then we have EMT, EMT advanced, paramedics, and then we even have some…

Debi Lynes (27:59): Like paramedics who are a helicopter pilot.

Randy Hunter (28:01): Yeah. We have flight medics and stuff like that actually to a part-time. So when we have all that stuff, so we are trained in all that. All firefighters are trained in basic fire prevention. Like we know how they give you come to our youngest firefighter and say, Hey, I would like to have a, can you tell me he’s a fire extinguisher? They shouldn’t be able to because that’s in recruit school, they’re required to do some pub[lic] ed[ucation] during recruit school. But yes, 90%. And if they don’t know the answer to it, they know exactly where to go and help you find it.

Debi Lynes (28:26): And you know, we’ve only got a couple of minutes to go, but before we go, I think I’d be remiss in not asking what is an emergency when something happens. How do I know when to actually call nine one one? I think that’s, there’s a big misconception.

Randy Hunter (28:41): Well, my biggest thing is don’t ever, if you have to question it, call number one. We would rather come to your house, come to your place of employment and the canceled en route or get, they’re like, Oh, everything’s okay. As opposed to sitting in the station and like, you know, they called us 10 minutes earlier, so don’t ever, if you have to question whether or not it’s an emergency AppSumo herbs and call nine one one.

Debi Lynes (29:02): Is, it really is the way, whether it’s, whether it’s physical fire.

Randy Hunter (29:08): Yeah. Well, because an emergency to me may not be an emergency to you and vice versa. So I’m not going to sit here and dictate, but I will, if somebody feels that they need help, we never, ever want them to discourage them from calling nine one one. We want them to call, have us come out, have law enforcement, EMS, whoever, come out, assess the situation and we’d rather go back home and making sure you’re safe as opposed to not being calling them out.

Debi Lynes (29:31): Then on that note, what information do I need to be armed with to help you expedite this and that you can do your job and can be more efficient with the information,

Randy Hunter (29:43): Current current location, what their problem is, where it calling from. And with cell phones nowadays, we need to make sure that when the dispatcher answered the phone that you tell them where you’re actually calling from. Sometimes like the fuss gallon, maybe not a great sample. It may actually, it may go the fussy Island right now as a Hilton head dispatch. [inaudible] May ping on you for counting. So where are you calling from.

Debi Lynes (30:06): And so that means no matter where we are in the US, that same situation.

Randy Hunter (30:10): They could have asked you. 100%.

Debi Lynes (30:10): Do you find that people don’t know where they’re calling sure on?

Randy Hunter (30:14): Oh, absolutely. We have a lot of students are down here. We have a lot of tourists. Hey, I see a lot of, there’s a house on fire where I’m not sure where, but I think it’s I it all, I’m on [Route] 278 and I see dark black smoke somewhere down there, so we got send an apparatus [a fire engine] to try and pinpoint where this, you know, and people don’t usually stay where they’re at.

Debi Lynes (30:33): I tell you what, the more we talked, the more questions I have, I can think of outside and gardening and all kinds of questions. Will you come back and talk to us?

Randy Hunter (30:41): Oh actually I love this, please.

Debi Lynes (30:41): Randy, thank you so much. We want to thank all of you for joining us here on aging in place for any stage in life. I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine, Tracy. Tracy is naturally curious and always creative and when we were doing the Aging in Place Podcast, she said there are so many quick tips that I can think of offhand. My response, who knew she’s going to be with us every week, giving us a quick tip and to hint that is a practical application.

Tracy Snelling (31:17): Thanks Debi. Love thy neighbor. They come in handy one day. If you’re friends with your neighbors, the ones right next door, or even just a few houses down, come up with a system that lets them know you’re okay. I used to watch over an elderly woman who lived alone and I had her call me every morning at 8:00 AM and she let my phone ring twice. That way it doesn’t disturb what I’m doing. And if she didn’t call me by 8:15 AM, I would call her to make sure she was okay. Also, she would turn on her porch light every night. So without disturbing her, I knew always well when I did my drive by and her neighbors kept a watchful eye for the light too and they had my phone number just in case. So devise a plan. Let your neighbors know that you’re good at baking or shopping for cookies, at least for an exchange for a watchful eye. Who knew your safety could be right next door.

Debi Lynes (32:15): Randy, what an amazing interview today and talk about a takeaway. Here’s the bottom line. Please, please, please check your smoke alarms. And don’t ever hesitate to call 911. Better to be safe than sorry. Thank you all for joining us here on aging in place for any stage in life.

Henrik de Gyor (32:36): Aging in Place Podcast is hosted by Debi Lynes and produced by Henrik de Gyor. If you have any comments or questions, send an email to debi@aginginplacepodcast.com we would love to hear from you if you’re interested in advertising or sponsoring this podcast, email us that pr@aginginplacepodcast.com

Thank you for listening to Aging in Place Podcast.

9. Janet Porter

Dr. Debi Lynes interviews Janet Porter about palliative care in the home for any stage in life

Janet Porter


Apple Podcasts | CastBox | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RadioPublic | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn






Disclosure: Links below to other sites may be affiliate links that generate us a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Conversation Project

Five Wishes


Lynes on Design


Open a dialogue and invite a conversation about aging in place end of life. It may be difficult to open that conversation, but it sounds to me like the rewards are exponential.  What is palliative care? How death with dignity and having a quality of life is the most important thing.


Debi Lynes:                   00:03                Hi and welcome to aging in place for every stage in life. What if you could visit or have a home that would accommodate anyone at any age, any physical ability at any time? How cool would that be? That’s what we’re doing here at aging in place. Why me? Because I’m a doctor of psychology and I specialize in physical spaces in health and wellness. Also, I love designing with intent at any age. Why now? Because we the baby boomers want to age in place gracefully and we want our families around us as much as we can and why you the audience? Because we want you to experience what it’s like to have a home that’s safe, aesthetically pleasing, and that you can live in at any age with any ability at any time. I’d like to introduce you now to Aging in Place Podcast for every stage in life.

Debi Lynes:                   01:05                Hi and welcome to aging in place for any stage in life. I am here today with my friend Janet Porter. I am thrilled to have you here with us. I would like before we even began to chat about palliative care and everything we’re going to talk about for you to share a bit about your history. It’s fascinating.

Janet Porter:                 01:23                Sure, Debi, thank you for inviting me. I am a hospital administrator by background. I had a guidance counselor in college tell me “you should be a hospital administrator”. And that’s what I’ve been most recently. I was at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, but I’ve also been passionate about leadership development throughout my career. So I’ve spent a lot of time as a faculty member at a lot of universities teaching leadership development and I’m most recently been very involved in governance. So I’ve been on the board of AARP.  I’m on the board of trustees at Ohio State and relative to today’s topic, I chair the hospice board, hospice care of the low country and Hilton Head because I’ve been very passionate, not only about leadership development, but about end of life throughout my career.

Debi Lynes:                   02:11                Well, you know, talking about aging in place at any stage in life, I think we often have a misconception that that is really about older people dying at home. I think the goal for this podcast is to really help people understand what it’s like to be able to have anyone at any time come into your home and feel comfortable. And I think it’s really interesting to talk to you today about palliative care, what it is and really about what it’s like at the end of life to age in place and specific things we may need.

Janet Porter:                 02:42                Okay.

Debi Lynes:                   02:43                So let’s get started and talk a little bit first about what palliative care is.

Janet Porter:                 02:48                Sure. Palliative care is a specialty in medicine, just like becoming a radiologist or an emergency room physician. And you actually get board certified in palliative medicine and it’s really physicians who oftentimes have all different types of backgrounds. They might be a pediatrician, they might be an internist, they might be a radiologist, they might be a nephrologist, but they’re often dealing with complicated patients and end of life patients. So palliative care doctors learn the process of really symptom management and managing the complex illness of patients and they’re often brought in as a referral at end of life because they’re usually very expert at also having the tough conversations.

Debi Lynes:                   03:30                It’s really interesting when you’re talking about it. When I think of palliative care, I think of end of life, no more active treatment interventions and it’s more about quality and comfort. What was interesting about what you said is also complex cases, so not just end of life.

Janet Porter:                 03:49                Right. So we have patients who get referred because of complex medical problems. They might have GI problems, they might have, you know, serious arthritis. They might have lots of different complicated problems. A lot of contraindication with medicine, met various prescriptions. Sure. And they’ll get referred to a palliative care physician to help them manage the complex care and all their symptom management and may be with that patient for years. It is true that a lot of doctors who specialize in end of life care had been trained in palliative medicine. I’m a faculty member in Harvard’s leadership program in palliative medicine and those physicians in that program and nurses and others come from a whole variety of backgrounds, but at their heart really want to help people die with dignity at end of life.

Debi Lynes:                   04:37                So let’s bring that back to the aging in place in your home. Why is that so important to remain at home?

Janet Porter:                 04:45                Well, you know, one of the things that surprised me because my parents were not like this when I joined the board of AARP, is how, what, how many people want to age in place, aging in place and dying in place is the strong preference. 85 90 95% of people do not want to leave their home. And so this is a really relevant topic because people not only live a fully.

Debi Lynes:                   05:11                Correct.

Janet Porter:                 05:11                In their home as long as possible, but oftentimes, I mean, mostly patients want to die at home. Also.

Debi Lynes:                   05:17                Let me ask you a question. Is this a United States thing where we want to stay? Well, where we typically have older people go to facilities or nursing homes as opposed to multi generational living?

Janet Porter:                 05:31                Well as you know, other cultures are in other countries are often much more respectful of elderly elders and honor them and want to honor their wishes and do have multi generational support with families living.

Debi Lynes:                   05:46                Yeah exactly.

Janet Porter:                 05:46                Close to each other. United States is so large and people are so young. People are so scattered now.

Debi Lynes:                   05:52                True.

Janet Porter:                 05:52                That it’s very unlikely they’re living close to their elderly parents.

Debi Lynes:                   05:56                But with that mind, I think as a baby boomer, someone who’s over 50, I’m not so gracious about being transported to a facility. I think I’m going to really, I want to know more about this. I want to know how to age in place. I want to know today at 60 or 66 how to create a home that I can age gracefully and, or die with quality. And I want my kids to create a home for me that I can visit.

Janet Porter:                 06:26                Yes.

Debi Lynes:                   06:26                And stay engaged and involved. So it’s really back to everything you’re talking about.

Janet Porter:                 06:32                Yes you know, it takes me back to my grandfather who was about 70 years old and in, in a little town called Verona, Pennsylvania. And he said he was having heart trouble and I, when the ambulance came, he was like, I’m not leaving my home. You know, I am fine here. I’m out. And he handed the car tech and died in the ambulance, but he was, he didn’t want it. He was walking down those stairs and he wasn’t going on a gurney, you know, and so many of us, that’s, that’s, that’s what place we found safe. And hospitals are, you know, oftentimes challenging places in terms of infection rates and errors. And so say home is a safe, safer place a lot of times.

Debi Lynes:                   07:10                it is a safer place. One of the things we talk about on the podcast a lot is how to create that safer place from a being on the board of AARP, number one and number two, just having an end of life interest, passion and specialty. What are some things that you can think about that are just easy ways to make your home more visitable?

Janet Porter:                 07:32                Well, the first thing of course, is to live on one story. I mean that’s the most surprising thing to me is the number of people that I know who choose to live in homes that have many stairs to.

Debi Lynes:                   07:44                Show up.

Janet Porter:                 07:44                Which is very difficult. So either being on a one story house or a one story house that has a bedroom so that you can be on one floor is the major thing because it’s the biggest obstacle to people being able to stay in their homes is stairs.

Debi Lynes:                   07:59                Okay.

Janet Porter:                 07:59                Either stairs coming into the house or a second or third story.

Debi Lynes:                   08:02                Let me ask you a question about going back to palliative care for just a moment and ask at what point do do palliative care physicians or even the process of palliative care come into play? In other words, as a patient who has a chronic disease, at what point would I perhaps call in a palliative care physician.

Janet Porter:                 08:25                At any point you can ask your physician, your primary care physician, just like you could ask to go to see an orthopod or an ophthalmologist.

Debi Lynes:                   08:35                Sure, sure.

Janet Porter:                 08:36                Or you can say, my symptoms are so complex and require such management, I’d like to be a referral to a palliative care physician. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of them around the United States. The big cities have them, but it’s tough to find outpatient palliative care. We’re getting in terms of producing more people who have this interest, but it’s tough to get them when you’re an inpatient. It usually happens because the family insists we’d really like to talk to a palliative care doctor. And that oftentimes then leads to the tough conversations about what really mom or daughter or sister wants at end of life.

Debi Lynes:                   09:14                And I think that those are the two questions I want is what does palliative care really look like, number one. And then we’ll take a break. What does it look like and then come back. And I think during the second segment, I’d love to talk about, having tough conversations.

Janet Porter:                 09:30                Okay.

Debi Lynes:                   09:30                So let’s talk first about what palliative care looks like to the patient.

Janet Porter:                 09:34                To the patient who let’s say a patient is an inpatient and the family says we’d really like a palliative care consult that involves a physician who’s understanding the full scope of illness of the patient and what the treatment plan has been, but is also really focused on symptom management and what symptoms are they trying to get under control, whether it’s end of life or not. It’s oftentimes the symptom management that’s critical to get the patient home, which is where they want to be. So palliative care can be helpful with the symptom management so that the patient can go home and then home care or if it’s end of life, hospice care can care for them, but have palliative care. Also good at having the conversation.

Debi Lynes:                   10:14                Exactly.

Janet Porter:                 10:14                Tough conversation with the family at end of life.

Debi Lynes:                   10:19                We’re going to have a take a quick break. We’re going to come back and I’d like to talk about what those tough conversations look like, how we begin to have them. And then I’m also very interested in the component pieces of those conversations. What just popped into my mind was what about do not resuscitate? What about who is the executor of my estate? I’m thinking all at once. Things that my mind is like too much to comprehend. So stay with this. We’ll be right back here on aging in place.

Debi Lynes:                   10:50                Hi, I’m Dr. Debi Lynes design elements are psychologically and physically supportive and conducive to health and wellness. To learn more about what Lynes on Design can do for you, for more information on certified aging in place and facilitative and supportive design, look for us at lynesondesign.com. That’s L-Y-N-E-S on design dot com.

Debi Lynes:                   11:16                We are back here on the Aging in Place Podcast for any stage in life. I’m here again with Janet Porter and we’re talking, we’re somewhat all over the board, but the focus is on palliative care and that has sort of morphed in and something that you’ve taught me in preparing you and I talked about this at lunch one day about asking the tough questions, having to tough conversations. So I’m going to turn this over to you. This is pretty interesting.

Janet Porter:                 11:42                Well, in the United States…

Debi Lynes:                   11:47                Okay.

Janet Porter:                 11:47                The legal field has legalized dying, which is then you really declaring where want your assets to go. People understanding where to where do your assets go through a will through other documents. But the other thing that’s happened is the medical establishment has medicalized dying has made it about what procedures you do or do not want. Do you want to feed into it? Do you want to be put on a ventilator. What do you want to do if you’re in a vegetative state. And while those things are important, and we’ll talk about the documents you need for both of those, that’s important. The truth of the matter is what we want when a loved one is dying is we want to honor their wishes. And that is, that does not just mean whether they want a feeding tube or where they want their, you know, precious, you know, figurines. But instead is knowing not what’s the matter with you grandma, but what matters to you.

Debi Lynes:                   12:42                Wow.

Janet Porter:                 12:42                And it’s about having that conversation about what matters to a 19 year old and 89 year old. That is really important because what we want to do is honor what matters and.

Debi Lynes:                   12:54                How do you even begin that conversation.

Janet Porter:                 12:55                Well actually there’s a great resource. It’s called the conversation project conversation project.org very easy to find.

Debi Lynes:                   13:05                Perfect.

Janet Porter:                 13:05                On the web. And Debi, they have toolkits that are little, little forms that you can go through where you reflect on the conversation you want to have with your spouse or your 19 year old son is not road riding around without a motorcycle helmet on.

Debi Lynes:                   13:20                Right exactly.

Janet Porter:                 13:20                Yeah and that document, that little toolkit kind of walks you through how to prepare for that conversation. When do you want to have it? Who do you want to be there? What questions do you wanna ask, etcetera. You know, the conversation project has done a lot of research on this and 92% of people say if they were seriously ill, they would want to have a conversation with their doctor about their wishes. 32% have chosen to do that. But more importantly, 80% of people say that if they were seriously ill, they would want their loved ones to know what their wishes were. 18% of people who’ve seriously ill have done that. I mean the statistics are overwhelming. The 21% of people say they’d like to talk to a loved one about what they want, whether they’re healthy or what, and yet they haven’t done it.

Debi Lynes:                   14:05                Is it fear, blame, shame, embarrassment, fear?

Janet Porter:                 14:08                You know what you remember Dr. Ruth?

Debi Lynes:                   14:11                Okay, Oh my goodness.

Janet Porter:                 14:12                Yeah, yeah.

Debi Lynes:                   14:14                I like her.

Janet Porter:                 14:14                Yes exactly. So you know, we couldn’t say the word orgasm on television until.

Debi Lynes:                   14:18                Exactly.

Janet Porter:                 14:18                Dr. Ruth came along.

Debi Lynes:                   14:19                I still remember that.

Janet Porter:                 14:22                Little German woman saying that she, you know, talking about words that we’d never used before on television. Well, I kinda think we need a Dr. Ruth of death. You know, because talking about sex was a taboo subject.

Debi Lynes:                   14:36                Correct.

Janet Porter:                 14:36                It’s much less taboo now because of her and others. And death is a taboo subject. It’s not something people feel comfortable talking about.

Debi Lynes:                   14:45                Which is ironic that you say that because I’ve got nine grandchildren. I was 10 and my little five and six year. When they’re in the back seat, they’re always talking, what does heaven look like?

Janet Porter:                 14:55                Are they?

Debi Lynes:                   14:55                What is it they feel like, well they lost a dog. What does that feel like? And it’s really interesting to listen to them be so open to the circle of life kind of.

Janet Porter:                 15:06                Yes.

Debi Lynes:                   15:06                Where we as adults are like, Oh my gosh, we’re trying to protect you. We don’t want to talk about things that aren’t wonderful and you know, rainbows and butterflies.

Janet Porter:                 15:14                Exactly, exactly. When I do, when I do presentations on this, I say to sometimes to college audiences, I’ll say, I’m going to talk to you about my sex life, and they all like sit up and feel uncomfortable and have butterflies in their stomach. I said, okay, I’m not really going to talk to about my sex life, but I’m going to talk about personal financial planning. And they’re like, they’re like, what? I said, you know what? You would feel equally uncomfortable if I talked about sex.

Debi Lynes:                   15:37                That’s right.

Janet Porter:                 15:38                If I talked about dying or if I talked about personal finance, how much I was net worth because we have these cultural taboos against topics that it’s okay, I don’t know about you but I don’t have any idea what my best friend makes or what.

Debi Lynes:                   15:50                I don’t neither.

Janet Porter:                 15:50                Not. A, we don’t talk about it and we don’t talk about death. We don’t talk about end of life and what’s important to us. And, and you know, what’s important to people in terms of their wishes is things like I want to reconcile with my brother. I want to know what’s gonna happen to my cats, who’s going to take care of my garden. I mean knowing those things about what’s really what matters to people and what would give them solace if they could resolve before the end of life is really important gift. We want to give those we love.

Debi Lynes:                   16:21                And it is a gift. When my mom died last August, we found in one of her calendars from 2004 every year she had written, we had no idea she had written, if she died, you know what she wanted. And to your point, not her assets, but what song she wanted played. She did not want a picture in her just over and every year she’d cross it out and change it or adapt it and then initial it.

Janet Porter:                 16:53                Yeah, Yeah, you don’t want my mom, my mom’s was what the color of the tablecloths were going to be.

Debi Lynes:                   16:59                Love her. I like that, I get that. And the colors change year to year, but at least we knew it. End of life, which color she wanted. So we’re talking about a taboo subject. Do you and I right now with humor.

Janet Porter:                 17:13                Okay.

Debi Lynes:                   17:13                With serious subject. But there’s a lot of beauty to it.

Janet Porter:                 17:18                There is, you know the, the thing I read a recent, [inaudible] article written by BJ Miller, who’s a national expert tie to palliative care doctors, a national expert in essence, the interviewer asked him, you know, what the experience was like at end of life. And he talked about how many people that he’d gone through the death process with who were really relieved and felt solace that issues had been resolved, that were, that were bothersome to them. So, it’s really an important thing for us to make sure that people live fully the end of life and then die at peace. And I would think of it.

Debi Lynes:                   17:52                And what does that mean? I hear that a lot die. The quality of life and death with dignity. I hear that from hospice a lot. What does that look like? Is it just encompassing everything that we’re talking about? And then what?

Janet Porter:                 18:04                I would say the number one thing is it looks like a lot of listening. It looks like really listening to the patient and the family in terms of what matters to them and honoring that. And hospices across the country are expert at that. They’re expert at really going in and helping not just the patient, but the patient and family deal with this major life transition. You know, Debi, that we’re all gonna face. And what I say to people is giving the gift of the conversation to people is a wonderful thing. When my mother passed away, she had had a serious stroke and I had three sisters and she was in the hospital and my mother had been very clear about what her wishes were and we got on the phone one day, they were doing all this stuff in the hospital and I knew she was really in bad shape and we got up one phone call on the with a palliative care physician and in an hour the palliative care physician said to us, are you clear about what your mom wants? We said, absolutely. And they said, then you need to honor her wishes, whatever. That if we took her off all medication, we took her out of the hospital, we put in our hospice care. She ended up living in other full year, which was big surprising to us.

Debi Lynes:                   19:16                But alongside of that and kind of the underlying CMI here is four girls, right?

Janet Porter:                 19:23                Three girls,

Debi Lynes:                   19:24                Three girls. There were three girls and it was less about individual points of view about how to manage your mother. But the doctor basically said, you will take you and put you here. This is about your mom’s wishes.

Janet Porter:                 19:37                Yes.

Debi Lynes:                   19:37                So in some ways that helped avoid a lot of potential because we all, we all see through our own lens and have ideas of the way things should be for the people we love.

Janet Porter:                 19:49                You can’t ask anyone, what do you want an end of life and have the person to answer. I want my children to be fighting over what should be done.

Debi Lynes:                   19:57                Right.

Janet Porter:                 19:57                No one wants that. Right? And so how can your children do what you want if you don’t tell them and tell them together. Not just Susie, the oldest daughter, right. And leaving the boys out of the conversation, which happens, but in fact being clear about it both verbally with them and in writing so that they can then have unanimity about what’s the best thing for mom.

Debi Lynes:                   20:21                It’s so funny. Bernay Brown who is a psychologist and she’s really an inspiration. I was like clear is kind and I.

Janet Porter:                 20:29                Exactly.

Debi Lynes:                   20:29                Say, yeah, and this is the perfect place to do that. I know we’re going to take a quick break. We’ve got a couple of things to come back and talk about. We’re going to talk about some of the tools within those toolkits, paperwork, documents, things like that that will be helpful and I also would love to have you share an anecdote about your favorite book. I’ve been looking forward to this and I thought it would be a great way to exit the interview.

Janet Porter:                 20:50                Okay yes.

Debi Lynes:                   20:50                So stay with this will be right back here on aging in place.

Henrik de Gyor:             20:55                For more podcast episodes, links, information and media inquiries, please visit our website at aginginplacepodcast.com as we transition through life with the comfort and ease you deserve. Discover how you can create a home that will adapt to you as you journey through life and the changes it will bring. Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as our host Debi Lynes and her expert guests discuss relevant topics to creating a home for all decades in life. Don’t miss our weekly episodes of Aging in Place Podcast for every stage in life.

Debi Lynes:                   21:32                We are back here on aging in place. Again, we’re here with Janet Porter and we are talking about aging in place. We are talking about palliative care. We are talking about having an end of life discussion. And what resonated with me was what I think you probably see all the time. You’ve got the emotional one, you’ve got the stoic matter of fact buttoned up. Here’s my list, here’s what you want to do. And everyone is so different. How do you guide someone through this process?

Janet Porter:                 22:01                Well, that’s one of the reasons that hospice care and palliative care physicians are so important because it’s all about listening, but it’s about helping those disparate opinions come together and reach consensus and it’s very tough. And you know, it’s emotional for people. Some people are more pragmatic and thinkers. Some people are in denial. What’s sad is the number of people who report that they brought it up a couple of times with their children or their spouse. This is what, I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to talk about it. Oh my goodness. There’s nothing worse you can do when somebody is ready to talk about what they want an end of life than to shut them down. It’s been, they’ve probably thought about it a lot before they’ve come to you. Right? And so being open, emotionally open to recognizing and you might not be the first time and then you’ll go back and think about it. But when a loved one is ready to have the conversation, the gift you could give them is to be there and really listen with an open heart. Some of the data is that 53% of people say they would be incredibly relieved to be able to have the conversation but have been blocked from doing so. 95% of people at end of life say they’re willing to have the conversation that maybe somebody else has to bring it up. So you know, if mom or dad doesn’t bring it up and you think it’s time, you need to figure out a way to bring it up. And that’s why the conversation project again, conversation project.org is such a great tool. They have tools, they have tool kits for dealing with people with dementia. Because imagine how complicated it is when you, not only a degree, but you really can’t. It’s too late to have the conversation with mom. I mean imagine how tough that is.

Debi Lynes:                   23:39                Yeah, I never thought about that.

Janet Porter:                 23:41                Oh yeah, they have a car, they have a tool kit for dealing with children, walking children through about what they want and, and they have one for adults so they have different toolkits based on the situation.

Debi Lynes:                   23:51                If you could just give us an overview of documents or people that you would like to see involved in the team. Okay. As we have a chronic illness that we need to manage or where at the end of life is there a team you would put together?

Janet Porter:                 24:07                Well let’s, let’s say, let me ask you answer the question about documents cause you mentioned documents. There’s another resource I’d like the audience to have. It’s called a Five Wishes, five wishes.org. And it walks you through the five wishes as to what my mom and dad or brother or sister or anybody would want. and prepares you for that conversation. And it’s a document that’s legally accepted as a will in for something like 42 States. So five wishes. It’s downloadable right from the internet. It’s not complicated and expensive and so people say, well, what prohibits them as, they don’t want to go to a lawyer and spend $500 or a thousand.

Debi Lynes:                   24:45                Right.

Janet Porter:                 24:46                It’s right there available on the web for you to clarify your wit, your medical wishes, your legal wishes and other wishes that you would have an end of life.

Debi Lynes:                   24:54                Oh, that’s huge. Five Wishes. I think we’re all going to be on that immediately. What stage? Let’s, let’s go back to the, the palliative piece for chronic illness. Okay. Is that really more about how to keep a person safe and healthy at home with symptom management and what does that look like?

Janet Porter:                 25:13                Mmm. Yes. I would say that’s a good description. It’s about helping them to manage their symptoms so that they can live life as fully as possible. Because after all, what we want people is to live fully until they die. And we have incredible stories of people who in their last year of life or six months of life have done incredible things. I think I’ve mentioned to you that my favorite book is this book Driving Miss Norma.

Debi Lynes:                   25:38                This is what I’m dying to hear.

Janet Porter:                 25:40                And I give it to everybody. I should’ve brought it today. I gave it to you that right.

Debi Lynes:                   25:46                I loved it. I read it.

Janet Porter:                 25:47                So Driving Ms Norma is a memoir and it’s by Tim and Ramy who are a couple who went to Michigan one year. They were living in the Airstream trailer kind of nomads and they go to Michigan and Tim’s father dies and mom is diagnosed right away with cancer. Mom is 90 years old and they say, mom, you can can’t stay in the house by yourself. We can put you in skilled nursing here, here in Pennsylvania with, or you could hit the road with us. And the next day when they go to the doctor, that doctor outlines the whole treatment plan for cancers, all these drugs and radiation and Miss Norma, what do you want? She said, hell, I’m 90 years old. I’m hitting in the road. And she wanted to go see Mount Rushmore and she wanted to go to New Mexico. They took her all over the United States. She had all kinds of adventures. I recently, I’ve done a lot of speaking on this and I had a physician that group, right. Not everybody’s going to have a big adventure at end of life. And I thought the messages in the book, I’m not about.

Debi Lynes:                   26:45                What are the themes?

Janet Porter:                 26:46                Well, the first theme I think is too is that people have a lot of life in them at every age and, and that you should honor their people’s wishes in terms of what they want. And she wanted to hit the road. So they had supported her hitting the road. There’s a lot of messages in there about how kind and open Americans were as they traveled around the country in terms of, because of the social media buzz she got, they opened their hearts. We’re here in Hilton Head and you know, when she, they ended up coming here, they ended up making her and putting her in the parade. She was in a car on the parade.

Debi Lynes:                   27:19                Oh, I love it.

Janet Porter:                 27:21                So, so that’s one of the major themes. And the major theme is about having the conversation with people about what you want. Major theme about hospice care. So the book is really a powerful testimony, I think. And I think also sparks the conversation. So if you want to have a conversation with somebody about end of life, give them the book, let them read it. It’s only a couple hundred pages. It’s a great story. And you can say, and what would be important to you, let’s say it’s your best friend who you’re worried about. What would be important to you and what can I do to help make that possible? There’s a, another book called being mortal, highly recommend.

Debi Lynes:                   27:56                I read that about three or four years ago and I thought that was one of the most powerful books and I was resistant to it. And even being a psychologist, I don’t know why, I just didn’t really want, I don’t know. It was one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Janet Porter:                 28:09                Yes.

Debi Lynes:                   28:09                And how would you describe the theme of that?

Janet Porter:                 28:12                Well, a tool. Gawande is a Harvard physician.

Debi Lynes:                   28:14                Right.

Janet Porter:                 28:14                I know him. He practiced at the hospital where I worked really good. He’s a thyroid cancer surgeon and he basically tells the book through this, through the story of his father who was a physician in Athens, Ohio and he comes home and realizes that his father really has terminal medical conditions and he then goes on to describe in the book what that was like for him personally and also shares a lot of story of his own patients. The PBS special about that, which I thought was terrific, an hour long special. What I thought was tragic and that at one point they had a woman who they were having the conversation with her about that this was the ad and she was sitting up in bed and she said, doc, all I want before I die is to take my children to Disneyland. And she died five days later. You know, and you think about if they had had that conversation with her about six months earlier, maybe she’d been able to do that. And think about what lasting memories that would have given to those grandchildren of their grandmother.

Debi Lynes:                   29:12                Who typically in today’s culture and society brings up the, the death or dying, end of life conversation based on your experience?

Janet Porter:                 29:23                Well, surprisingly it’s oftentimes not the patient, you know, patients, I worked at a cancer hospital for years and the vast majority of patients listen to what the doctor recommends and don’t really ask and what will be the quality of my life, what the, what’s my prognosis? And oftentimes take patients on a cancer journey a long time because the doctors very much want to keep them alive and are very hopeful about the treatments and you don’t want to take away people’s hope. And so people are often reluctant, both patients and family members are reluctant to say, tell me really what the prognosis is.

Debi Lynes:                   29:56                And that’s not saying you have three months to live. That’s just simply being realistic.

Janet Porter:                 30:01                Right, right.

Debi Lynes:                   30:01                When you talk about a prognosis.

Janet Porter:                 30:04                Right, right. I had a friend who came to Dana Farber cancer Institute and they’d been told, they’d been told at another cancer center that they couldn’t do anything else and they wouldn’t give them any prognosis. And he said, I want you to know I have grandchildren.

Debi Lynes:                   30:18                That’s right.

Janet Porter:                 30:18                I want you to know. And they said, if you stop all treatment, you’ll live six months. If you stay on standard chemo and we think you’ll live a year, but we’ve got a clinical trial for you that we think will extend your life beyond that. And when I went to dinner with them, they were so relieved and they had decided to do the clinical trial. He lived two and a half years and what he wanted was his grandchildren to remember him and he was so pleased with, by the time someone says, I want to know my prognosis he wants to know.

Debi Lynes:                   30:48                What exactly. That’s not the first thing you ask when you’re diagnosed. That’s when you’ve run through a lot of the treatment options.

Janet Porter:                 30:53                That’s right.

Debi Lynes:                   30:54                I think it’s absolutely fascinating. You don’t realize how interesting the hell in the whole conversation is. And I think bringing it up, demystifying it, and having an open dialogue like this. Oh, I’d like to invite everyone who’s listening to, talk to one of your loved ones. I think it’s a pretty powerful discussion.

Janet Porter:                 31:12                Unfortunately, we sort of have a myth that we think doctors are really good at this and doctors are taught to save your life. And so the training that doctors get to really have these tough conversations is modest at best. And it’s not something they’re human beings.

Debi Lynes:                   31:31                Sure.

Janet Porter:                 31:31                People feel confident, uncomfortable talking about it. Doctors are human beings. They feel uncomfortable too. That’s why you need to ask the right questions for your loved ones and B, get potentially access to these resources and really think about what you can do to honor your loved one’s wishes at end of life. I also want to tell you that my mother was in hospice care and her mother-in-law had died on Christmas day when my dad was 16. And my mother felt really passionate about the fact that you should not die on Christmas day. So we had a minister who was coming to sing with her cams Oh irregularly. And he came to see her on December 22nd and said, Myrna, what do you want to sing? And for the first time ever she said, I want to sing. I’ll be home for Christmas. And they sang the last song they sang together was I’ll be home for Christmas. And she went into a comment and she died on Christmas Eve. And what I said to people is my mother was very religious and so she wanted to sing. I’ll be home for Christmas. And she was and hospice care and Joe rock, the pastor who was caring for him gave her that final moment. And I’m so grateful.

Debi Lynes:                   32:42                It has been an amazing conversation and we thank you all for participating with us in that Janet, especially you. Thank you all for joining us here on aging in place at any stage in life.

Debi Lynes:                   32:53                I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine, Tracy. Tracy is naturally curious and always creative. And when we were doing the Aging in Place Podcast, she said, there are so many quick tips that I can think of off-hand. My response? Who knew! She’s going to be with us every week, giving us a quick tip and a hint. That is a practical application.

Tracy Snelling:              33:23                Thanks, Debi. Surround yourself with needs and not one. Sometimes our areas can get a little messy and organization goes a long way. An organized space helps you move more freely. We tell our children to pick up their toys, but yet we keep a stack of magazines next to the couch. Play a game along with your kids. Have them walk around the house with you and let them tell you what you need to pick up or even better. Get rid of it. We get so comfortable with our things be nearby that we actually lose sight of them. I only need one pencil sitting on my desk so the other nine can go in a drawer. Who knew our children can be great organizers of our things.

Debi Lynes:                   34:08                Hi, I’m Dr. Debi Lynes and thank you for listening to aging in place for any stage in life. We would like to ask you all to give us a review. Of course, preferably five stars. Thank you again and we hope you enjoyed aging in place for any stage in life. Janet Porter, what an amazing interview and talk about takeaway that you actually can take away and use. First of all, the most important thing I think that Janet taught us today was open a dialogue and invite a conversation about aging in place, end of life. It may be difficult to open that conversation but it sounds to me like the rewards are exponential. Additionally, what I learned and I think many of you also learned is what palliative care and how death with dignity and having a quality of life is the most important thing. Thank you all for joining us here on aging in place for any stage in life.

Henrik de Gyor:             35:09                Aging in Place Podcast is hosted by Debi Lynes and produced by Henrik de Gyor. If you have any comments or questions, send an email to debi@aginginplacepodcast.com we would love to hear from you if you’re interested in advertising or sponsoring this podcast, email us at pr@aginginplacepodcast.com thank you for listening to aging in place podcast.

8. Ryan Herd

Dr. Debi Lynes interviews Ryan Herd of Caregiver Smart Solutions about using sensors for any stage in life on Aging in Place Podcast

(duration: 33 minutes)

Ryan Herd



Apple Podcasts | CastBox | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RadioPublic | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn






Disclosure: Links below to other sites may be affiliate links that generate us a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Caregiver Smart Solutions

CES Showstopper award winner

Plastic shot cups


It’s all about sensors.


Lynes on Design


Debi Lynes:                   00:03                Hi and welcome to aging in place for every stage in life. What if you could visit or have a home that would accommodate anyone at any age, any physical ability at any time? How cool would that be? That’s what we’re doing here at aging in place. Why me? Because I’m a doctor of psychology and I specialize in physical spaces in Health and wellness. Also, I love designing with intent at any age. Why now? Because we the baby boomers want to age in place gracefully and we want our families around us as much as we can. And why you the audience? Because we want you to experience what it’s like to have a home that’s safe, aesthetically pleasing, and that you can live in at any age with any ability at any time. I’d like to introduce you now to Aging in Place Podcast for every stage in life.

Debi Lynes:                  01:03                Hi, I’m Dr. Debi Lynes and welcome to the Aging in Place Podcast. I am here today with Ryan Herd and I’m very excited to have you today straight from the CES conference in Las Vegas. Ryan, I’m thrilled to be able to talk with you and I’d like to learn a little bit about your background, number one, number two about the CES conference and number three, I think it congratulations are in order.

Ryan Herd:                    01:31                Hey Dr. Debi. Well, thank you for having us on. I really appreciate it. So, let’s start by unpacking those questions. Who am I? I’m actually Ryan Herd. I’m known as the smart guy. I’ve been in smart tech and IOT for 29 years. I literally wrote the book on it called Join the Smart Home Revolution and I’ve been in the tech industry for all my life. I’m a techie. I kind of love this stuff.

Debi Lynes:                   01:57                Did you get into that? How did you get into that area of being known as? I like it. I’m known as the smart guy.

Ryan Herd:                    02:03                Yeah, Ryan Herd the smart guy because I wrote the book. So I wrote the book called Join the Smart Home Revolution and it was really to fix or answer that fundamental question, which is what is smart home and how can it help me as a human? You know, the one issue with the technology industry is where you make a lot of widgets and gadgets, but how can I actually help me as a human? So I started to answer that question and because of that I’ve also worked with some of the top companies like Sony and really group would just call a banker and home advisor. I helped them start up their smart home division. So yeah. And I also had a integration firm called the one sound choice. And what we did is smart technology for high net worth, high profile individuals all over the US.

Debi Lynes:                   02:50                And you know, I want to get right into it. I still want to go back and talk a little bit about your kids and your life because it’s pretty fascinating. You have, it sounds like you have a nice self-care and a nice balanced life. But to get right to the point, one of the things that intrigued me when I first talked to you, and because I’m older and I’m very, yeah, there you go. A grandmother of nine and most 10. I’m really curious when it comes to aging in place and the home. The more research I do and the more data I have gathered, the more I realize that a lot of the products that are for aging adults if you will, or people who have special needs acute illnesses aren’t really user-friendly. And it was so fun for me to talk to you because that was the first thing out of your mouth is oftentimes people who manufacturer these things don’t really think in terms of universal designer humans.

Ryan Herd:                    03:47                That’s the big problem. And, and I don’t mean to beat up on anybody. Again, I’m a techie. I love technology. I just got back from CES and that’s the Superbowl of technology. Now with that said, I’ve been spending a lot of time out in Silicon Valley as well as over here in New York and NGIT and there’s a lot of really smart people. I mean they are doing amazing things and they’re building and designing things that are going to be incredible for when I get older. Where they lack is they don’t understand the consumer or the person that’s going to use it. Today. For example, when we’re talking about let’s say the greatest generation people that are approaching a hundred years old, you know, 19, 28 and older is when they were born. You know, they’re technologically adverse. It’s all about, they don’t want to be spied on. It’s their belief system is, you know, we are going to meet somebody, we’re going to get married, we’re going to buy a house, we’re going to have kids. We’re going to live in that house. We’re going to die in that house. And we’re never ever, ever going to be a burden to anybody else. So that’s what we do see, is there’s people that are trying to just take all these smart home gadgets and put it in mom’s house, but mom doesn’t need a smart lock. She doesn’t need a smart thermostat. She doesn’t need a alarm. What she needs is to know that somebody’s got their back.

Debi Lynes:                   05:05                And you know that. It’s really funny because my mom and dad moved in three years ago. We lost my mom, but my dad’s 91 92 and it’s exactly what you say is true. They want their life to be the same as it always has been, but they have so many more restrictions now. And I also think for my dad, at least, he doesn’t want to feel special. He doesn’t want to feel like he’s a burden on anyone.

Ryan Herd:                    05:31                Right, right.

Debi Lynes:                   05:31                He wants to be as independent as he can. So what does that mean in terms of technology?

Ryan Herd:                    05:40                Well, independence, you said it right. So let’s think about it. Remember when you got your first car and you were independent for the first time you left home, this was the first time you’re able to be on your own. Nobody was next to you. You know, we’ve been craving it. We finally got it. Now you’re not going to give that up, right? You want your independence for as long as possible. And that’s why what we’ve seen is those that are 65 and older, more than 85% of them want to live at home alone and independent. So the question is how do we as caregivers, how do we enable that? How do we give them the ability to be independent, live at home, and yet reduce our stress. Because being a caregiver, it’s, it’s stressful, it’s time-consuming and it’s isolating.

Debi Lynes:                   06:24                Yes it is.

Ryan Herd:                    06:26                So we’ve done, the new company I have called Caregiver Smart Solutions is just that. We’re answering that fundamental question, which is how are they doing, right? We’re enabling your loved one to live home longer while reducing your stress because as I said before, being a caregiver, it’s stressful, time-consuming and isolating. So let me tell you what we’re not, we’re not a camera, right?

Debi Lynes:                   06:49                Okay.

Ryan Herd:                    06:49                Because cameras are invasive. You don’t want a camera in your home. I don’t want it in my home.

Debi Lynes:                   06:53                My dad, Well what’s funny about that is my dad has flat out refused it, don’t be spying on me. not spying. I just want to make sure if you’re falling or you’re slipped or you can’t do this or that, that you’re covered.

Ryan Herd:                    07:04                Exactly. That’s actually the first thing I did when my father had cancer. I put a camera in and he put a dish towel right over it. So that wasn’t gonna work. So the second thing that we’re not, we’re not trying to change your loved one’s habit. I dunno. Have you ever tried to change the habit of an 80-year-old?

Debi Lynes:                   07:21                Yeah it’s not pretty.

Ryan Herd:                    07:23                I can’t even change my own habits, right? So that’s not going to happen. Number three, we’re not aware of it because the reality is, is they’re not wearing them. They’re not charging them up. And you have to understand, as I said before, there’s a psychological aspect. And what I mean by that is it’s like me going to my father Dad, do me a favor. I need you to wear this. And if something happens, you gotta push the button. Now here’s where psychology comes in. The reality is, is I’m working around, I’m dealing with my kids. I’m dealing with this. A video call. I have other meetings I have to take. I’m not thinking about end of life. 93-year-old grandma. You know what she is and now we’re taking this device and saying, if you have a problem, push the button. And she’s looking at that as the button of death. And you have to understand they don’t want that and we want to enable them, but we don’t want to bring that kind of stuff up. So how can we be proactive? And this is what we are caregiver’s smart solutions. We take tiny non-evasive sensors and we place them discretely around the home and what the sensors are monitoring is your loved ones’ habit because your habit is an indicator of your health. For example, if mom’s habit is that she gets up twice a night to go to the bathroom fine green check Mark. That’s what she always does. But if all of a sudden she starts getting up five times a night, three nights in a row, that’s definitely an issue. That’s something you want to know. And it could be a urinary tract infection. No, that’s just a little bit of what we do and we do so much more.

Debi Lynes:                   08:56                Talk to me a little bit about a, what is sensor? How does the sensor work? It Does it go in the corner of the room? Does it go in different rooms? What am I actually monitoring movement sound?

Ryan Herd:                    09:06                So there’s a couple of things that our sensors are doing in the baseline. We’re measuring movement, we’re measuring things like the refrigerator, we’re measuring the medicine cabinet, we’re measuring the time it takes mom to walk down the stairs. We’re measuring quality. How long has mom been sleeping? It’s really important to get, let’s say five to eight hours of sleep.

Debi Lynes:                   09:27                Correct.

Ryan Herd:                    09:27                She’s getting up once an hour, every single hour. That could be an issue now.

Debi Lynes:                   09:32                Was an issue for cognitive decline.

Ryan Herd:                    09:33                It’s an issue for that. And, and you know what? We’re facilitating the insights through the use of an app. You can see exactly what’s going on. And let’s say it’s that. And you see mom, your loved one got up once an hour for four hours straight. So now when you talk to mom, you can say, Hey, how’s everything doing? And what is she going to say? It’s fine. But now you can say, I saw that you were up a lot last night and it, you know, it might’ve just been a bad burrito. I don’t know.

Debi Lynes:                   10:01                How does it, how does it actually track? We’ve got about a minute in this segment. So how does it actually document and track? Is it actually formulating data? Is it a, is it journaling for me? Is it sending me a note or an email?

Ryan Herd:                    10:18                So what we’re doing from the fancy side is we’ve got a bunch of noninvasive sensors mounted throughout the house and what happens is we’re using something called machine learning. Think of that as a record button, so two to three we’re recording the habits, so now we have a baseline, we know how your loved one is doing, and then from there we add something called AI fancy technology and what AI is looking for is they’re looking for those things that are out of the ordinary. For example, if mom’s sleeping later or if mom is taking longer to get down the stairs or if mom is not drinking, making her coffee. All of these things are outside of what normal is.

Debi Lynes:                   11:00                All right, hold that thought. We’re going to take a quick, quick, quick break and I’m going to come right back and get into it again. We’re talking with Ryan Herd and I’m really excited. We’re talking about motion sensors. Stay with us. We’ll be right back.

Henrik de Gyor:             11:12                For more podcasts, episodes, links, information and media inquiries. Please visit our website at aginginplacepodcast.com as we transitioned through life with the comfort and ease you deserve, discover how you can create a home that will adapt to you as you journey through life and the changes it will bring. Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as our host Debi Lynes and her expert guests discuss relevant topics to creating a home for all decades in life. Don’t miss our weekly episodes of aging in place. Podcast for every stage in life.

Debi Lynes:                   11:49                We are back here on aging and place. We’re talking with Ryan Herd, talking about motion sensors. More importantly, we’re talking about universal design. We’re talking about aging in place for absolutely every stage in life and I’ll tell you what’s interesting about this is although we’re talking about older adults at this point in time, one of the reasons I wanted to do the podcast, Ryan, is because it’s really something that’s important for families or folks at any age. I know my daughter has two young kids. And when I think about her having motion detectors, I think, or the sensors as you’re talking about, I think it would be an amazing opportunity.

Ryan Herd:                    12:29                And it’s interesting because as your daughter is right, so I’m 48, I’ve got three young boys and your daughter has, and they call us the sandwich generation, meaning, you know, we have our kids that we’re taking care of as well as we have our aging adults that were also worried and concerned about. So we’re sandwich tray in the middle of that.

Debi Lynes:                   12:47                It’s so very true. Being a psychologist, I do a lot with the sandwich generation. I started out with adolescent and now I’ve ended up with the geriatrics and I think we’re sitting right in the middle of them. So let’s go back and talk about these sensors and as far as the artificial intelligence piece of that, how this works again.

Ryan Herd:                    13:06                So the easiest way to explain it is, as I said, so we have two main things that go on. We’re using machine learning and again, think of that as the record button. So that’s going to record the habits over about two weeks’ time. And then we’re going to get a baseline. So for example, we’ll be able to know that mom is vacuuming every Wednesday because everyone says she’s going in and out of the rooms and we can see them [with sensors, not cameras]. Once we get that baseline, then we can add AI or artificial intelligence on top of that. So for example, let’s say, let’s say we’re talking about false. So envision a Cape Cod. So you have a two-floor house, a mom’s upstairs, she gets up in the morning, she goes to the bathroom. Now these are going to be triggering our sensors and she comes out of the bathroom, she goes walking down the hallway, triggers a sensor on the top of the hallway. We know that she takes about three and a half minutes to walk down the stairs. She’s going to trigger the sensor at the bottom of the stairs. Then she’s going to walk into the living room because that’s the next room. And then it goes into, she’s going to trigger that. Now it’s going to know what her typical timeframe is. How long it takes to get down those stairs. Now another scenario, let’s say she got up, she went to the bathroom, she got to the top of the stairs and now all of a sudden it’s four minutes, four and a half minutes, five minutes. And she hasn’t triggered this. The sensor on the bottom of the stairs where his mom, she’s probably laying in the middle of the stairs.

Debi Lynes:                   14:35                Or just we going to say she’s gotten dizzy. She’s fallen. Yes.

Ryan Herd:                    14:38                You take another scenario, she triggers a sensor at the top of the stairs but then triggers a sensor at the bottom of the stairs 30 seconds later and does not trigger the next sensor, which is living room. What happened? Mom probably rolled down the stairs. That’s the kind of power that we’re talking about [awareness] and that’s just on one thing. So let’s take it even farther. Let’s talk about dehydration. So technically the closed loop would be things like, I see mom open up the refrigerator. I see mom moving around. I see mom making coffee through the coffee pot and I see mom going to the bathroom [all with sensors, not cameras]. Well, that’s what you expect to happen.

Debi Lynes:                   15:13                Correct.

Ryan Herd:                    15:13                I’m going into the fridge, walking around, not going to the bathroom and not making coffee. That could because for concern over several days because that could mean that she’s dehydrated. Dehydration that precursor to a fall. And guess what? We don’t want our aging loved ones to fall. That’s the power of what we’re doing.

Debi Lynes:                   15:35                So how does this work from a practical point of view? Are you in the actual production? How does someone get this? What would be a fee schedule? It just makes so much sense.

Ryan Herd:                    15:49                So we have three different kits. I don’t know if you can see it.   

Debi Lynes:                   15:54                There you go.

Ryan Herd:                    15:54                At Caregiver Smart Solutions, what we do to make it easy for everybody is we made three different kits. We have the Basic kit, Deluxe kit, and Deluxe plus. Obviously, they can be found on our website which is caregiversmartsolutions.com. You can give us a call at (888) 585-5022. Now the easiest way to explain it is think of the basic kit. The scenario is we just got out of holiday, right? We had Thanksgiving, we had new year’s. So let’s say you saw grandma and this was the first time that you realize that grandma, you know she, she’s just not as snappy as she used to be and I’m not saying anything’s wrong with her, I’m just saying that.

Debi Lynes:                   16:34                No, no, no okay.

Ryan Herd:                    16:34                The first time that your concern you get the basic kit. All I want to know is the basics. Is she moving around? Is she eating, is she taking her meds and is she going to the bathroom? Just the basics. From there, we can go all the way to the deluxe plus kit, which then we’re monitoring obviously much more, many more things like doors. We’re also monitoring things like TV because if mom’s sitting in front of the TV for five and six hours, that’s like me saying, I need you to get up and run around the block. They shouldn’t be sedentary for that long. The coffee pot or tea kettle, we’re measuring sleep quality as well as fall detection, so on that, that is usually for somebody that maybe there’s been an event, maybe mom has already fallen or maybe you’re really concerned about your loved one. Maybe she’s got a bit of dementia.

Debi Lynes:                   17:28                Dementia.

Ryan Herd:                    17:28                What’s the most important thing when we’re talking about dementia? We’re talking about a did the door open up and b that you walk out of that door because that is the most important thing. Those are the kind of things you want to know.

Debi Lynes:                   17:43                Well, it’s really interesting to me because as a certified aging in place specialist of the things I think about all the time are when cost is no object. That’s one thing. Okay, I can hire full-time help, I can do this, I can do that. But I think for many of us within the sandwich generation, we don’t necessarily near-live near our loved ones. And I think that, you know, if there have been such a void in American for any kind of, I guess fixed in the middle, if you will.

Ryan Herd:                    18:14                Right.

Debi Lynes:                   18:14                And, and more importantly home-health and some of those things are almost cost-prohibitive. How do you all play with others in this area, if you will?

Ryan Herd:                    18:31                So think of us as a, we’re complimentary and we’re proactive. So every, all the technology in the market right now is reactive. It’s, I’ve fallen, I can’t get up. If something happens, push a button and we’re all waiting for impending doom.

Debi Lynes:                   18:44                Correct.

Ryan Herd:                    18:44                How about earlier? So we can start answering that question. As I said before, how are they doing now when we’re talking about in-home care, the least expensive that you can get into it for is twice a week, four hours a day, and that’s only covering eight hours at 25 bucks an hour. And that’s about $10,400 a year. It’s a lot of money. Now the problem is is there’s 168 hours in a week. So what happens that on 160 hours, what would the system like ours? You’re still getting all of the basic questions that you have answered and it could be as simple as how many times is mom going to the bathroom? How many times is she opening up the medicine cabinet at the refrigerator? Is she moving around? Those kinds of things. We’re also complimentary regardless of where mom is living. And what I mean by that is maybe it’s a house, maybe it’s a townhouse, a condo, maybe she’s in independent living, maybe she’s in assisted living because you have to remember in assisted living, if we have the opportunity to put our loved ones in an assisted living place and that’s a beautiful place, but their business model is that they are really an apartment building with a social aspect, right? They do have nurses on staff, but the responsibility is not to come in and check on mom all the time. Once mom goes into her apartment, once that door is closed, there’s now a black hole. So we facilitate you knowing how mom’s doing as well as the nurses’ aid station to know what’s going on.

Debi Lynes:                   20:15                One of the things that’s interesting psychologically is I know from my dad at least and for a lot of folks that I know and who have expressed concern with home health or bringing people in is they don’t want strangers in their home. I think, you know, for me it’s 60, I could care less bring him in. You know, somebody is helping me, I’m all over it. But I, but I understand that that’s a huge issue. And so this alleviates all of that. And I think the feeling of independence and autonomy is amazing. Do these run 24 hours?

Ryan Herd:                    20:48                They run 24 three 65 so 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. They’re always on. You can take a look at the app and see exactly how mom’s doing and if something’s a miss, you will know. So if something bad happens, we’re going to send that notification to you. So this way you can call up mom or we’re just going to facilitate that conversation. So here’s another scenario. Let’s say you have an in homemade, let’s call her. Sally is going over to mom’s house and then all of a sudden Sally calls you and says, you know what? I think we need more time in the house because I don’t think mom is eating as much cause she looks like she’s losing weight.

Debi Lynes:                   21:25                Got it.

Ryan Herd:                    21:25                Now you can live well back to our system and see exactly over time, what’s her average, how many times does she open up that refrigerator and if you see it trending down now you know that Sally is, you know, she’s honest. She’s telling the truth. I trust her. She’s absolutely correct. So it’s backing up with the in-home.

Debi Lynes:                   21:42                Well, it’s a check and balance. It makes so much sense. Ryan, we’re going to take another quick break and come right back. Once again, we’re talking to Ryan Herd. We’re talking about Caregiver Smart Solutions because he’s the smart guy, so stay with us. We’ll be right back.

Debi Lynes:                   21:57                Hi, I’m Dr. Debi Lynes design elements are psychologically and physically supportive and conducive to health and wellness. To learn more about what Lynes on Design can do for you for more information on certified aging in place, and facilitative and supportive design, look for lynesondesign.com. That’s L-Y-N-E-S on design dot com.

Debi Lynes:                   22:23                We are back here on aging in place. Once again, we’re with Ryan Herd and we’re talking about Caregiver Smart Solutions, and they are smart. Okay. The natural segue and the natural question is this, how in the world and why in the world, even though I know you’re the smart guy and you’re a techie, I mean, I think this whole demographic and this aging in place phenomenon, I can say this the baby boomers are aging. We’ve got a great transfer of wealth. We’ve got a lot of folks and you and I and me more than you are in this sandwich generation. Can you share a little bit about how you did get into it and then let’s talk about the CES Las Vegas conference and you winning.

Ryan Herd:                    23:07                Sure. So my background, as I said before, I’m known as Ryan Herd the smart guy and I’d been in technology for 29 years and I literally wrote the book on smart technology called Join the Smart Home Revolution. So everything is great. And then my father got cancer not once, but twice now. He’s tough as nails, but being his caregiver, I’m concerned, you know, and this is the first time that I’m really concerned on how he’s doing. So being the smart guy, I figured I could find something, buy it, put it in and everything would be fine. And then I realized that in this industry, technology stopped in 1990 literally when we talk assisted living facilities, they still have pull strings and they think that’s so leveraging my background, a smart technology, I started to attack this problem and saying, you know, why can’t I look at an app? Why is it that it’s 2020 and I still need a call, a text, or to stop by to see how my loved one’s doing. There should be the ability to have an app that can answer my fun amount of questions, which is how are they doing? You know, are they moving around? Are they eating, are they sleeping? Are they sitting in front of the TV? And then, of course, there’s the fault. So.

Debi Lynes:                   24:16                Brilliant.

Ryan Herd:                    24:16                That’s how I got into it and I figured I can fix this problem.

Debi Lynes:                   24:20                So what happens now? You were the number one, you won the CES conference. Talk to us a little bit about how that happened after talking with you, it makes sense.

Ryan Herd:                    24:31                Exciting.

Debi Lynes:                   24:31                But what were some of the criteria that you think you more than check the boxes on that you really had?

Ryan Herd:                    24:36                So we entered what’s called the Showstoppers and we first were named prior of CES, we were named one of the top 10 hottest startup at CES.

Debi Lynes:                   24:49                Which is how I heard about you.

Ryan Herd:                    24:52                Oh really?

Debi Lynes:                   24:52                Yes! That’s how I heard about you. I was just doing a little research and I was like… him.

Ryan Herd:                    24:57                I got to talk to this one.

Debi Lynes:                   24:58                And you know.

Ryan Herd:                    24:58                And we went from there and then we had to give another pitch. All 10 companies do. And I got to tell you, there was some stiff competition. There was a great company that was bringing robots. There was another company that was talking about water usage. And it was actually fascinating where it would go on the head in the shower and literally when you turn on, the water would go on. But if it didn’t sense anybody underneath it, it would go on like 50%. And then when you were under it or going, it was amazing. Another company that was doing retrofittable smart dials for stove, you know how all of our stoves are dumb. Or you can put this smart knob on and then through an app you can tell if it’s on, if it’s off all these things. So I, while I had competition, but at the end of the day, as luck would have it, we did incredible and we ended up winning. So we are named the hottest startup at CES. And then on top of that, the next morning we found out that we’ve won Techlicious Top Pick at CES. So we won back to back number ones, which were absolutely fabulous. They really.

Debi Lynes:                   26:08                Alright, so here’s the real question now what?

Ryan Herd:                    26:12                Now what? Well, we are in the background talking with a lot of the nationwide retailers. We are also thinking about moving into other countries because what we found out, we really knew this, but.

Debi Lynes:                   26:26                It’s ubiquitous.

Ryan Herd:                    26:28                Yeah. You know, with a product like this, the reality is I don’t care. I don’t care what your race, religion, creed for you live. Everybody has somebody that they love and care about and they want to make sure that they’re okay. And we’re talking about the US we’ve, we’ve actually got about a hundred million people that are 65 and older and 10,000 people a day turn 65. Now when you look at worldwide population, Japan actually has the most amount of old people with the least amount of young people taking care of them. So that’s a huge problem in Japan. Yeah. So it is amazing. So you’re going to see some amazing things from us. You know, it’s our destiny to fix this problem and really I want to, I want to reduce as much stress as I can because I am going through this. I get it. I know what it’s like and we just want to help people out.

Debi Lynes:                   27:21                It’s a very practical approach. I think that’s what is intriguing to me is that you’ve really taken, again, the universal design principles of that is a pretty simple application when you think about it, but it really covers so many aspects of safety in the home. Are there specific places that you put these sensors?

Ryan Herd:                    27:47                So we do have videos that teach you how to do it and basically it’s…

Debi Lynes:                   27:50                Are there Youtube videos?

Ryan Herd:                    27:50                Of course, peel and stick them on the wall. You know, we want to respect our loved ones, architectural details, so we want it to be as non-intrusive as possible. With that said, don’t put it behind a door, behind a plant. We can help you with that.

Debi Lynes:                   28:09                Okay. You do that. I was going to say, how does one get this product or is it available and if not, when will it be available?

Ryan Herd:                    28:17                So this is our third generation product.

Debi Lynes:                   28:19                Oh, is it really.

Ryan Herd:                    28:19                It’s going to be coming out the second quarter of this year. It’s the most cost-effective. It’s the smallest. Again, these are tiny, non-intrusive sensors. They’re about the size of a quarter.

Debi Lynes:                   28:32                How do they mount?

Ryan Herd:                    28:34                Peel and stick, You literally peel the back and stick it on the wall. So it’s nice and simple. Now if it seems like it’s too complicated, we’re in the middle of forming a partnership with a nationwide installation company. So this way we’d be able to take care of you. So again, we have some amazing things coming out in the next quarter. So stay tuned.

Debi Lynes:                   28:54                Did you have any idea when you first started and went to school that this would be the direction that you would take when you were a kid? Now are your three boys pretty techie too?

Ryan Herd:                    29:05                They’re techie because dad’s a techie, but a funny story a side note is I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My mother is a entrepreneur, my uncles are entrepreneurs. And when I got out of high school, I actually went to culinary arts school. So I got a degree as a chef.

Debi Lynes:                   29:21                You’re a chef? Of course you are.

Ryan Herd:                    29:22                I left that and I started an electronics company in 1989 so that was…

Debi Lynes:                   29:29                Tell me about reinventing. Oh, I absolutely love this. There you go. Well, I tell you what. I’ve got a little homework to do now. I’m going to go read up a little bit more about the smart guy and I really appreciate you taking time today and is there anything that you can say is on the horizon, a little teaser that we could look forward to soon?

Ryan Herd:                    29:52                So for Caregiver Smart Solutions, we are trying to answer that fundamental question which is how are they doing. And at the end of the day it’s the little things that are important. Is the, is your loved one moving around? Is she opening up the fridge? Is she doing all those things as well as so much more now on the horizon you’re going to see some amazing stuff with us. We are going to be partnering with some of the best companies that are out there. You’re going to see us expand as far as the granularity and the more information that you can get because our goal is to really get into your loved one’s house as early as possible. So this way we can fix as many things as possible as they age and as they age. Really give them the ability and give you the ability to help them out and keep their independence for literally as long as we possibly can.

Debi Lynes:                   30:42                You are absolutely amazing. We want to thank you. We want to thank all of you for joining us. I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine, Tracy. Tracy is naturally curious and always creative and when we were doing the Aging in Place Podcast, she said there are so many quick tips that I can think of offhand. My response, who knew she’s going to be with us every week, giving us a quick tip and to hint that is a practical application.

Tracy Snelling:              31:16                Thanks Debi. This shot is for you. I only take five pills a day, so I really don’t need a pillbox every morning. I place my five pills in three cute little shot glasses, one for morning, one for afternoon and one for bedtime. At a glance, I can see [via sensors] if I’ve taken my medications. Of course, keeping them out of the reach of little ones is safety, but since I live alone, I placed mine next to my coffee pot and as I do take my medications, I turn the shot glass upside down. The plastic shot cups makes it handy if you’re a caregiver to remember how the nurses pass medications out in the hospital. It makes it so much easier for the elderly to take their meds out of a cup. Then just placing them in their hands. Who knew those glasses have more than one use?

Debi Lynes:                   32:07                It’s pretty amazing to see the direction we’re going for aging in place. My takeaway for today is pretty simple. It’s all about sensors. Just remember that it’s all about sensors. Again, we want to thank all of you for joining us here on aging in place. Have a great week and thank you, Ryan Herd.

Henrik de Gyor:             32:31                Aging in Place Podcast is hosted by Debi Lynes and produced by Henrik de Gyor. If you have any comments or questions, send an email to debi@aginginplacepodcast.com. We would love to hear from you. If you’re interested in advertising or sponsoring this podcast, email us at PR@aginginplacepodcast.com. Thank you for listening to Aging in Place Podcast.