scott-close-254x300In this video, Brian and Scott discuss how and when to prepare a home for aging seniors. Scott describes when it is the right time to start looking at preparing the home, and details regarding what types of accommodations and changes to make in order for the home to be safer. Scott also touches on how to find the resources for making these necessary changes, and how to bring up this important conversation with your parents.

The Interview

(0:00:31.0) Information about BrightStar
(0:02:05.3) Average Client
(0:03:01.1) When to Prepare the Home for Seniors
(0:03:55.3) Suggestions to Make a Home Safer for Seniors
(0:06:21.4) Providing Resources for Accommodations
(0:08:28.6) Having a Conversation with Parents

Brian: Good morning. I’m Brian Spitz, president of Big State Home Buyers, and today we have a guest, Scott Yokley, with BrightStar Home Healthcare. And Scott is here to visit with us first about how to prepare your home for an aging senior. So, thank you very much for joining us.

Scott: Thank you, Brian, for having me. A pleasure to be here.

(0:00:31.0) Information about BrightStar

Brian: Absolutely. So tell us a little bit about your facility and what it is that you do.

Scott: Well, BrightStar is a provider of in-home medical and non-medical home care for private pay clients or, and we also staff for contract, supplemental staffing for facilities. So we provide caregivers and nursing in the home, primarily.

Brian: Okay. And BrightStar is a franchise, so it’s a national company.

Scott: Correct. I am one of the owners of about probably 150 owners with 250 locations and I am the owner for the Sugar Land and Katy West Houston territories.

Brian: Okay. Do you service the whole city of Houston or really just that west part?

Scott: I’m actually one of four owners that cover the Houston area.

Brian: Okay.

Scott: We have an office in The Woodlands, Downtown and Friendswood, as well. So together, we manage the Houston area.

Brian: All right. Good. So what are the advantages of it being a franchise? I would imagine that there would be some comfort level for your clients to know that it’s a higher repeated corporate structure.

Scott: Yeah.

Brian: Rather than, you know, an individual person you hire to come sit with your family.

Scott: Absolutely. I think the combination of a national brand that brings rigor and structure to our quality and compliance and oversight is a big feature, but also, being a franchise, locally owned, you know, me as the owner, going into the home and talking with folks and being accessible, is a huge advantage and very comforting for families who are dealing with the type of service that we deal with.

(0:02:05.3) Average Client

Brian: Right. So tell us a little bit about your average client? Who’s the person that’s going to hire you to, your company, to come help their family?

Scott: Well, our capability, we have, we cover a very wide variety. Because with BrightStar, what makes us really unique is we do both the non-medical, which means caregiving, personal care, companion care, those type of services you might normally think of as home care, but we also provide kid care, back up care for parents, as well as nursing, skilled nursing care for folks who need that. So, we cover everything. A large portion though, I think, that we had been talking about, was the elder population, obviously. Seniors or folks with disabilities, is probably the biggest facet and when you’re talking about seniors, our typical client might average 70-80’s, in that age bracket. But we have some in every category.

(0:03:01.1) When to Prepare the Home for Seniors

Brian: Right. Well, what we were going to talk about first today was how to prepare the home for, if you have aging seniors or when is the right time to start preparing the home and what kind of alterations do you suggest? By the time you get to someone’s home, have they already prepared it or do you make suggestions for their needs?

Scott: We see both scenarios. There are times we’re brought in where families are very well-versed and they’ve done a lot to make the home safer for, typically, their parent. But we also go in and folks have made no accommodations. It’s brand new to them. They’re not , they don’t understand exactly the potential issues they could deal with, so we have to do a lot more instruction. We always go through with our clients and walk through the house and talk about it. We just find some need a lot more guidance than others.

(0:03:55.3) Suggestions to Make a Home Safer for Seniors

Brian: Right. So give us some ideas or some common things that you suggest that make a home safer for an elderly person.

Scott: There are a few key components. First of all, you have to look at it from different angles. First of all, is there anything going on with the individual that might make them more vulnerable to falls. We’re talking medical issues. You know, have you had conversations with their doctor? Are they prone to dizzy spells suddenly, where maybe before they were not? Is there an underlying medical condition that could make them more potential risk, fall risks. Are they under medications that might make them more woozy, make them lose their balance more? Are there things that can contribute to it? Those are key components.

But then you also have the environment, which is, I think, what you’re getting to. Are there things in the home that make it safer or less safe? And there’s a variety of things. Simple things like handrails in the bathroom around the shower, both inside and outside the shower. That’s a key one. Cause, obviously, it’s when people are at their most vulnerable. It’s wet, slippery and their balance may be compromised as it is.

Is there, throughout the whole house, you have to look at, is there clutter? Are there clean, accessible pathways that they can walk through the home? Are there transition areas going up and down steps? Do they have handrails on both sides of the steps? In the kitchen, do they have to reach up for things?

Brian: Okay.

Scott: Do they have to lean over and get things under cabinets? These are all very practical and very commonsense when you look at it, but the reality is if you’re vulnerable and you don’t , your balance is compromised and you’re not 100%, all those things make things a little bit riskier. And obviously, the big issue of falling is that’s the biggest contributor to someone having to go in the hospital or having an additional condition because of it, because of their state.

So there’s a checklist, for example, we have that we go through. And it goes through each room. It covers everything from where the light cords are. You know, can they turn on a light before they enter a room? These are, this is just some examples of the list we go through that may seem commonsense, but when you have an outside party coming in and looking at it, you get a fresh look and an objective view.

(0:06:21.4) Providing Resources for Accommodations

Brian: And are you able to provide the installation, or do you have people that you recommend to your clients that help make the house ready?

Scott: Well, we don’t personally do the accommodations. We don’t install handrails.

Brian: Right.

Scott: Because there’s a variety of things you can do. But we basically provide resources for folks, connect them to contractors that specialize in that. Because there’s, you can do a lot or a little. But there are some basic things that make a lot of sense. And there’s things people can do on their own as well, that’s totally fine.

Brian: And for people that may not be at a stage where they need home healthcare or people that can’t necessarily afford home healthcare, what are a few suggestions you would offer?

Scott: The major ones, and the theme is always going to be about communication. Where there, probably any topic you’re going to cover, with your family, with your physician, is to communicate about what are the risks. To utilize resources like on the BrightStar website, to get our checklist or from a variety of internet resources or physicians, diminishing fall risks.

Brian: Right.

Scott; There’s a lot of resources and things that people can do on their own. Some of the things I mentioned, that can help. But it’s communication between the family, the individual in the home, as well as the physicians, all talking together and basically putting the fall risk topic on the table and saying, how do we address this, even before it happens. Because that’s the best time to address is, as you can imagine. Once you had a fall, yes, another fall is dangerous, but you’ve already become more vulnerable because of it.

Brian: Right. And tell us your website? How can people look that up?

Scott: It’s And you can actually get to the Fall Prevention by But if you go into our and type in “fall prevention,” it’ll route you to it. The blog section has several good articles on fall prevention as well, if you go to the website.

(0:08:28.6) Having a Conversation with Parents

Brian: Yeah. I checked your website out and it’s really easy to navigate. Real clean and real, it’s a really good site. Really informative. At Big State Home Buyers, we buy houses and, you know, we buy quickly. We close fast and we buy them “as is.” And buying from people who have aged out of the house or people who have passed away is by far our largest demographic of clients. So we see properties that have been made ready for elderly people and properties that haven’t. People that have taken care of their estate planning and people that haven’t. And so I know from all the people I’ve dealt with over time that things like a conversation like falling are not comfortable conversations. Either the parents don’t want to talk about it, the kids don’t want to bring it up and it’s essential, both for safety and for estate planning, that you have the difficult conversations.

At what point do you think a child or a loved one needs to come and sit down and have these kinds of conversations with the parent or family member?

Scott: You know, there’s no, no time’s early enough, has been my experience. I found, through talking with folks and through all my experience that actually having the conversations before an issue ever comes up, while maybe your parent is totally independent and perfectly fine taking care of themselves and don’t need any assistance at all, is actually, it could be the best time to talk about, hey, how would you like things to work if one day you’re not able to do as much as you are today?

Because that person can speak theoretically about what they want to happen, and they don’t feel like they’re being judged right at that moment.

Brian: Right.

Scott: That they can’t do something. Because it’s a difficult topic. No one wants to give up their independence. Nobody wants to feel like they need to be helped. But forcing an uncomfortable conversation is worth it sometimes, because when it happens and you’re unprepared and you don’t know what to do, as you well know, in many facets of life, it just makes things much more difficult, challenging, and then you’re guessing at what the family member might have wanted.

Brian: Right. Well, Scott, this, again, has been Scott Yokley with BrightStar Home Healthcare. And I’m Brian Spitz with Big State Home Buyers and we’ve been covering how to make the home safe and a little bit about home healthcare. So, thank you very much for being with us today. I appreciate it.

Scott: Well, thank you for having me, Brian. Appreciate it.

Brian: Thank you.