Thursday, April 14, 2016

Hi-Tech and Hi-Touch Transportation System for Elders

One Company's Goal to Offer Quality Transportation to the Senior Community

Offering an affordable, accessible and high quality transportation system for the senior community is the goal of Cleveland based company, Senior Transportation Connection. For over 10 years, STC has been helping seniors in the Cuyahoga County and Cleveland area get around the city in the quickest and easiest way while offering a personal touch not experienced by public transportation.

Janice Zeigel, of STC, says that their transportation services can take seniors wherever they need to, from medical appointments and senior centers to grocery stores and hairdressers. Janice says “One of the most difficult decisions someone can make is giving up the car. We exist to make that an easier process for older adults.”

Making the decision to give up driving is a tough one that many people don’t like to make. A recent AARP study shows that men will out-live their driving age by 8 years, and women by 10. Janice explains, “There are many reasons older adults may need to give up driving, it may be as simple as arthritis that limits the range of motion in your neck. There’s also limitations in older adults being able to use public transportation, growing up in the Cleveland area we drive, we dont extensively use public transportation. It’s a difficult transition to make if you stop driving to think you can just start using public transportation.”

Janice says that there service is different than what you would get with public transportation. “We are very customer focused, our drivers are well trained and they provide as much physical assistant as an individual may need, whether it’s boarding the bus or carrying the grocery bags.” STC makes an effort to not only provide a high quality ride and assistance on the bus, but also behind the scenes. STC has a sophisticated program that their reps use that remembers names, the last five locations an individual has traveled to and a system that calculates the fastest routes to make sure they arrive at appointments on time.

Helping Your Family Stay Safe

Something that STC offers that you won’t get anywhere else is a safety net system they have in place with their drivers. “The Hi-Touch part of the service is that driver the high level physical assistance as well as taking note of that individual's condition that day. We have a responsibility to report things if we know them. We have connections in the community, if our driver notices something with an individual that may not be quite right we always ensure there is a follow-up.”

Janice says that there a number of signs you can look for to see if someone you know may not be in the condition to drive anymore. If you get in the car with this person, a big sign is if they are only making right turns or if they are decreasing the radius that they will drive. Other things to look for are if the person’s car has scratches and/or dents that aren’t explainable, this may mean they are having a tough time staying alert while driving.

“It’s important to understand the importance of access for people. Everything can’t happen at home, so the ability to get out and appreciate life and activities is so critically important in the lives of older adults in our community” says Janice.

Senior Transportation Connection is here to help your loved ones get around town easily, safely and in the most enjoyable way possible. If you or someone you know could benefit from STC’s service, please don’t hesitate to contact. You can visit their site at or call one of their representatives to answer any questions at 1-800-983-4782.


Here at Stay At Home Modifications, we make your well-being our priority. Our interview series goes hand in hand with that effort, and we hope you find it helpful! For more information on how we can help you make your home a home for life, visit us at or call me (Brian Pritchard) at 216-212-7531.

Planning for People not Property

Estate Planning does not have to be a scary word anymore.

When you hear “estate planning” you may be thinking of what a millionaire will do with their home and what they will do with all their money when they pass. This is something that Margaret Karl, estate planner and elder law professional of 13 years, gets all the time and she explains why that is not the case. “They have the misconception that if I don’t have millions or a lot wealth then I don’t need to be concerned about it”. She adds that “Things like power of attorney, living wills, designating your wishes. Who is going to take care of my stuff if I can’t, who is going to pay the electric bill if I can’t or who will talk to the doctor. Those are all things people need to be concerned about.”

Margaret lists a few life events that make people a little bit more proactive in their own planning. These events include an illness, either to yourself or a spouse, death of a family member, or having children. Margaret says that “those are the most common things that I see happen that draw people in to sit and talk about things.”

Not Planning Ahead
Our conversation leads into what could go wrong if something happened and the person has not planned anything. She explains, “Some of the things that can go wrong, regardless of how much or how little money they have, people don’t have beneficiaries on accounts like life insurance or IRA’s, they never updated them. Those are very simple things that cost no money to update that help pass money along, but it gets forgotten.” Margaret encourages people to take out documents like wills, life insurance, IRA’s and review them every couple of years just to make sure the information on them is current.

Planning Ahead
There are a number of cases where people do plan ahead though, and are able to be prepared for life events. A client's son, explains Margaret, “had been put on permanent disability, and every program for disability provides a max on how much income and assets a person can have. We made some modifications so when the time came and his dad passed away, the money would be put in a trust in order to provide for him.” She says that in a case where they had not met, the money would be paid directly to the son and would have caused some major conflicts with his benefits he would be receiving from disability.

Knowing When to Get Started
Sometimes it might be difficult to tell if you need to sit and talk with an estate planner, it is not something most of us think about very often. Margaret offers advice on when is the right time to sit and talk with a professional. “If you have never done any kind of planning, if you have no will, no power of attorneys, nothing, or if it has been more than four or five years since you have even looked at anything. The other reason would, like we discussed earlier, if you had something happened, somebody passed away or life changing event, certainly we want to speak during those times.”

Many people tend to put things like this off because they think they need to know everything and have all kinds of paperwork prepared. Margaret explains that is not the case and this a process that can go as slowly or quickly as you need it to. Don’t be intimidated if you don’t know what to do. Margaret offers a free consultation as well as free seminars where you can learn more about estate planning.

To speak with Margaret you can visit her site to email her or find out if she is hosting a seminar near you. You can also call her at 440-973-4145 or her toll free number at 850-560-6062. Margaret truly cares about her clients and gets to know them so she can help in the best way possible.


Here at Stay At Home Modifications, we make your well-being our priority. Our interview series goes hand in hand with that effort, and we hope you find it helpful! For more information on how we can help you make your home a home for life, visit us at or call me (Brian Pritchard) at 216-212-7531.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Giving Voice to Our Soldiers: The Music of Jimmy Flynn

Local Songwriter Puts Soldiers and Veterans In the Spotlight
Jimmy Flynn, American patriotic singer/songwriter live performance

Jimmy Flynn is a local songwriter with a unique focus: He writes songs that pay tribute to America’s men and women in uniform. “My first song was about Christmas time,” he shared. “I realized how difficult Christmas time—the holiday season—can be on people who have recently lost loved ones, so I wrote a song from the perspective of a loved one in heaven. … Then I dovetailed that into another concept that I had as far as a recent soldier dying and going to heaven and writing and singing how he still loves and cherishes his beloved America. That song became My America, I Love You.”

From there, Flynn felt inspired to give further voice to American soldiers and those who love them. He imagined different scenarios and let his creative process unfold. “I started writing patriotic songs from different perspectives, i.e., a mother and a father sending their son off to war, [and another] from the perspective of people welcoming soldiers back home, that sort of thing. I think to date I’ve written over 40 patriotic songs.” Of those 40, Flynn included 13 songs on his new album, My America, Vol. 1.

While Flynn did not serve in the armed forces himself (he was never called during the Vietnam War due to having a high draft number), he has always felt a strong support for our troops. “I’ve always been patriotic, and the longer I live, the more patriotic I become. … I had a number of uncles who were [in the second World War]. … As you know, that generation is known as the greatest generation. All they did was save the world for us, certainly when you think of Hitler and Stalin, the fact that France had already fallen and Great Britain was about to fall. Some may feel that this is an exaggeration but I don’t feel that way at all. The Americans literally saved the world. … Because of the American involvement and that generation, we are here today enjoying our freedoms.”

“My generation, the generation of Baby Boomers, our war was the Vietnam War. It’s such a tragic issue as far as how the veterans returned from the Vietnam War and how they were not treated well, at best, and mistreated at worst when they did come home. It was a very controversial war and very confusing times, but we need to honor our Vietnam veterans to a great degree. … My newest song is called, Soldiers of Vietnam, Welcome Home.”

Helping Soldiers Heal

One of the most unique and touching aspects of Flynn’s work is the impact it is having on veterans. During a recent performance, no less than six different Vietnam veterans came up to him after the show to express how his music had affected them. “There was a family,” said Flynn, “the father of which had just found out about the tribute [performance] an hour before. He was a Vietnam veteran. … [After the show] via Facebook, they sent me a message saying that 46 years later, this gentleman finally feels welcomed home, that he had never been welcomed home. Pretty touching.”

The way music can touch people’s hearts and heal old wounds is truly incredible, and Jimmy Flynn is making this possible for active soldiers and veterans everywhere through his songwriting.

If you would like to hear some of Jimmy’s songs or attend an upcoming performance, you can find him on the web at


Here at Stay At Home Modifications, we make your well-being our priority. Our interview series goes hand in hand with that effort, and we hope you find it helpful! For more information on how we can help you make your home a home for life, visit us at or call me (Brian Pritchard) at 216-212-7531.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Jeremy Cares Brings Smiles to Local Families

Helping Families Struggling with Childhood Illness to Keep Spirits High

Jeremy Cares is a nonprofit organization based out of Cleveland suburb Avon Lake, Ohio. In 2008, Vice President and cofounder Mary Kellick’s best friend found out that her son has leukemia and Mary decided to help any way she could.

“My best friend in life,” Mary said, “her name is Debbie George … and her son came down with acute t-cell lymphoblastic leukemia. … Some girlfriends and I rallied together and just started fundraising to help the family, because we didn’t know what else to do. There was nothing else we could do, but we thought, okay, we can help to relieve some of the financial burden. We printed t-shirts and we sold t-shirts. We filled up a mezzanine at Progressive Field. … It was filled with orange t-shirts. Everybody was there for Jeremy, which was wonderful. There was a great outpouring from the community. … When Jeremy thankfully went into remission, [Debbie] wanted to pay it forward.”

Jeremy Cares became an official nonprofit in 2010. “Our mission is that we create moments of joy,” said Mary, “for families who have children who are going through a medical crisis.” The organization has partnered with Ronald McDonald House to sponsor a room at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital so that a family can stay there free for an entire year. Jeremy Cares is now also doing work with Cleveland Children’s Hospital.

Making the Holidays Special for Kids with Cancer

Each year at Christmas time, the Jeremy Cares organization goes to Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital to the immune-compromised ward, where most of the cancer patients are cared for, to give out presents. “We get crazy,” Mary shared. “It’s anything that they want, within reason. We’ve given laptops and Casio keyboards and digital cameras, and the family gets kind of a wish list, you know? Put down what you would like, and we try to get those members of that family anything that they want.”

The 2015 Christmas delivery is coming up, and anyone can participate in helping to make the holiday special for these children. Simply visit, find the Giving tab at the top of the page and select Wishlist underneath it. This will take you straight to an Amazon page where you can buy gifts that were handpicked by the families Jeremy Cares is gifting this year.


This interview series is sponsored by Eldercare Professionals of Ohio, where we make your well-being our priority. Our interview series goes hand in hand with that effort, and we hope you find it helpful! For more information on how we can help, contacts us at, for questions on how to make your home a home for life, visit us at or call me (Brian Pritchard) at 216-212-7531.

To connect with Jeremy Cares, visit them on the web at, or call 440-933-9146.

To listen to the full audio conversation, please use the player below...


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Vision Troubles? The Cleveland Sight Center Can Help.

If you face vision problems in the greater Cleveland area, there is a powerful local resource that should definitely be on your radar. We sat down with Tom Sawyer from the Cleveland Sight Center to learn more about how the group supports our community.

"[We] help people to use the vision that they have left to remain as independent as possible in their home, workplace, community or school," said Tom. "We look at different low-vision products and how people might use or want to use different things and match them up, essentially." The program offers sight support to people of all ages and all levels of compromised vision. "Cleveland Sight Center has been around for going on 110 years," Tom went on, "and we have everything from preschool to the oldest individual I've worked with to date is 104."

Making Vision Support a Reality

Often times, people come to the Cleveland Sight Center at a crossroads. "[People] find out that they've ignored the problem and they can't ignore it anymore if they want to stay independent or if they want to have any kind of quality of life," Tom shared. "There are people that just sit in a dark room all day, every day. They don't know of the opportunities that are available to have equipment or people come alongside them to encourage them and empower them to do the things to be the whole person that they once were. It may be in a different way, it may have different accommodations, but they can still be very vibrant and full of life and successful and do daily living activities at the very least."

The center also supports people who were born with compromised vision. They have a program that empowers youth as they prepare to transition from living at home to going out on their own into the world. "We have had students who are going off to college or going into the world of work," said Tom. "They may have been protected … from all of the outside influences, but now Mom and Dad understand that they need to help their child grow and move to the next phase. So, they come here sometimes six to eight weeks, depending on the program, and they'll stay here. We help them assess where they are. We help them go and look at different employment possibilities or schools and mobility issues and assess their capabilities to use technology and introduce them to new technology. … We have residence centers with peers where they stay. They do shopping, they go bus ride, there's just a number of things that they do."

"We also have a camp," Tom continued, "the oldest and largest in the country, I believe. … In-ground pools, indoor camping--it helps them build skills [like] communication, socialization. It encourages them to work together. It's intergenerational as well because there are a number of other people--not just kids or young people--it's every age just about."

Best Practices for Vision Challenges

If you want to do what you can to navigate the world with the vision you have left, Tom had some specific tips to share:

Make the Most of Light Sources: While the sun can be a challenge to sight when you are facing it directly, you can turn your face away from it and allow it to shine on your reading material to help you read. The same is true for overhead lighting sources; point them as much as possible directly at the task you are undertaking and you will see what you are doing more clearly. You don't want light shining in your eyes; it should be behind or above you to illuminate your tasks.

Bump Dots or Spotlight Paint: When people are beginning to lose their eyesight, often times something called a "bump dot"--a sticky adhesive dot--can be attached to certain things, such as a number on the microwave, a setting on the washing machine or a key that is used frequently. Spotlight paint is another such solution that will allow visual distinction even with advanced vision deterioration.

Use a Bold Pen: Writing with a gel pen or even a Sharpie marker can help make writings more readable.

Natural Daylight Lightbulbs: Bulbs calibrated to produce light equivalent to natural daylight support vision indoors.

Go for High Contrast: A great example of this is, when cooking, if you're cutting a tomato, you would want to use a white cutting board, not a dark-colored board. On the other hand, if you're cutting onions, you would want to use a dark cutting board. The Cleveland Sight Center sells a white/black cutting board that you can turn over to use the side you need to see your task best.

Protect Your Eyes: Twenty or thirty years ago, you'd see everyone over 70 wearing these huge, bulky black frames over their glasses. These days, there are plenty of more palatable options for people to choose from to protect their eyes from bright sunlight.


This interview series is sponsored by Eldercare Professionals of Ohio, where we make your well-being our priority. Our interview series goes hand in hand with that effort, and we hope you find it helpful! For more information on how we can help, contacts us at, for questions on how to make your home a home for life, visit us at or call me (Brian Pritchard) at 216-212-7531.

To connect with The Cleveland Sight Center, visit them on the web at or call 216-791-8118.

To listen to the full audio conversation between Tom and I, please click on the player below...


Monday, September 28, 2015

Dancing Wheels: Living without Limitations

When we see someone dance, we have the chance to witness the emotions of the heart translated into the physical motion of the body. Dancing Wheels Company & School in Cleveland, Ohio creates performance pieces and educational opportunities that embrace all those who wish to express themselves in the form of dance, no matter their abilities or perceived "disabilities". Founder and Artistic Director Mary Verdi-Fletcher shares the story of how dance became a part of her life.

"From as far back as I can remember," Mary said, "I always wanted to be a dancer. … I had braces and crutches when I was growing up, and my mother was … a professional dancer prior to my being born. She always instilled the idea of music and movement from the time I could remember anything. I remember that she took me to this shrine, because my family was very religious, too, and we were visiting with the nuns and she said, 'Show them how you know the Mexican Hat Dance.' And they put a hat down and I was doing the dance on my braces and crutches, and they just really loved that. It was kind of the first time I was actually doing a little impromptu performance, so I remember that. I was probably about three years old."

Enjoying Her Dancing Wheels

Mary won several singing competitions in her school-aged years, but didn't have the opportunity to do much dancing, as dancing classes for someone in a wheelchair didn't exist at that time. After high school though, she reconnected with an old friend from her school days in Perry, Ohio and began dancing at local clubs in Cleveland. "I became real popular in the clubs," said Mary, "because I was the only one in a wheelchair dancing." Her friend's then husband became Mary's first dance partner and they decided to enter the Dance Fever dance competition. "I signed up and I didn't tell anybody that I was in a wheelchair because it didn't occur to me," Mary recalled.

"Our first big performance was [the Dance Fever] competition at a dance club in Willoughby," Mary went on, "and there were 2,000 people in the audience because there were all these other competitors. … We entered the dance floor [and there] was an entire hush over the audience; 2,000 people and you could've heard a pin drop because they were awestruck that there was a person in a wheelchair in a dance competition. … And then we broke into dance, and we did 'It's Raining Men' by The Weather Girls. … We just went all out. My girlfriend had made our costumes."

"[My dance partner] was quite athletic and I had an older-style wheelchair. I mean, it was new then, but they looked like the hospital ones now where they're heavy and clunky and all that, and they have big armrests. So, our finale was that he took a flying leap and jumped on my armrests and jumped over my head, and people went crazy over it. We were chosen as alternates to go to California to be on the show, and we got a standing ovation that night and it was covered by the media tremendously. That was the very beginning of Dancing Wheels. We named it Dancing Wheels that night … and from that time, we were picked up by Disney to do a national television show. It was called Up and Coming. … Then we started getting calls from all over the nation to go and perform. We did 72 shows our first year." That was 1980.

Branching Out

In 1990, Dancing Wheels became associated with The Cleveland Ballet. It was also at this time that Mary formed the Dancing Wheels School. "I had access to working in the school of The Cleveland Ballet and learning from their techniques, their training," said Mary. "I was able to develop relationships with choreographers and have a pool of professional ballet dancers to work with."

"The company is versed in … classical styles of dance [like] ballet [as well as] modern [dance]. I personally love story ballets[.] … We have Alice In Wonderland like you've never seen before. We have Pinocchio. We have Babes In Toyland. We have The Snowman. And we have Helen Keller: A Tribute to Her Teacher."

Dance with a Message

"We'll do two things," Mary said. "We'll either have a call to create a piece specifically … [such as when we recently developed] an educational program [based on Newton's Law] that included dance [and] was a mix of science and movement. … Then there are other dances that we've done, for instance Daring to Be Dumbo, which was based on the story of the elephant with the big ears … [in] a modern-day setting. So there was still a Dumbo, but Dumbo was a Junior-High-School student and was a female who had big ears [and] she was teased for how she looked. Once that ballet was created, we decided to take it further and excerpt it and develop an outreach program based on anti-bullying."

"[In] the original story of Dumbo, Dumbo was bullied for being an elephant [whose ears were] with too big[.] … [Then] he found a way to take that disadvantage and make it an advantage so he could fly with his big ears. We're always looking for themes that fit within the curriculum of the schools and that also might relate to social issues."

Embracing Limitless Potential

The Dancing Wheels motto is "The Human Body Has No Limitations," and Mary's worldview is very much in alignment with that statement. "I've always been a person that would take on opportunities that were presented," she said, "or challenges! It's more like, 'Why not?' than 'Why?'. By doing that, I have met Presidents and Popes. … I always say that the disability is society because they've imposed the stairs and the stereotypical views and the perceptions of someone who has a different body. That's society. Me, as a person, I'm a free spirit, so I don't place those limitations on me. They come from the outside in sometimes, but I've learned that I've become a much stronger force having broken through those barriers. … You become stronger with each of those barriers that you've pushed through."


This interview series is sponsored by Eldercare Professionals of Ohio, where we make your well-being our priority. Our interview series goes hand in hand with that effort, and we hope you find it helpful! For more information on how we can help, contacts us at, for questions on how to make your home a home for life, visit us at or call me (Brian Pritchard) at 216-212-7531.

To see a Dancing Wheels performance, participate in their dance school or learn more about their programs, please visit them on the web at or call them at 216-432-0306.