Great AuPair

Great families, Great Caregivers, Great adivce

How to Help Seniors Use the Internet Safely

Monday, March 24, 2014

The number of older adults connecting with friends and family on the internet and via social media is rising every year. You know this from personal experience, if you’re a home-based caregiver for seniors. It’s statistically true as well, according to recent Pew Research studies which show 53% of Americans age 65 and up using the internet and email, and 43% making use of social networking.

The online experience has opened doors for the seniors in our care, giving them ways to stay in touch with the important folks in their lives despite the obstacles that distance, weather, and health issues may present. But the internet can also open the door to a lot of unwanted and unwelcome attention in the form of targeted scams, fraud, and identity theft.

These risks are real. National statistics show that while adults over 65 make up just 12% of our population, they comprise 30% of all the victims of fraud and scams each year. As a caregiver, you have a real duty to help the elders you serve develop safer, wiser practices on their computers, tablets, and smartphones.

Opening the conversation

Start with a conversation about seniors who’ve been defrauded — it’s a great way to introduce the topic of online safety. Remind your charges to change their secure passwords every now and then, and keep a handwritten list of passwords near their computer. Let them know that it’s a bad idea to click on an email link that comes from a stranger, and to never, ever, give account information of any kind in response to an email.

Social networks

Many seniors don’t understand how public Facebook really is. Help them to tighten up their privacy settings, and let them know that criminals are using the social networks, too! An innocent post about being home alone or a check-in at an outside location can be an invitation to home invasion. If checking in via FourSquare is a favorite activity, encourage seniors to check in when they’re leaving, instead of when they’re arriving.

Online dating

This might be a delicate subject to broach. But please, do it anyway! Thousands of seniors are defrauded every year by unsavory characters posing as romantic partners. They need to understand that when an online date starts spinning a hard-luck story — no matter how heartbreaking it seems — it’s a doomed relationship and a scam in the making.

Links from friends

Even if the seniors in your care have cleaned up their online behaviors, their friends may not have done the same. Encourage your charges to wait a day before clicking on links they get from friends via email or Facebook posts. While nobody sends malicious viruses to their friends on purpose, accidents do happen, and that’s what the scammers count on.

Virus protection

On the subject of malware and viruses, help your charges download a good virus protection program. If you can set it to run automatically, do so. Then take the time to demonstrate how it can be manually activated as well.

A final note

Remember, you’re not trying to scare seniors away from using their computers and mobile devices. The online world is a great place for elders to keep up on news, access valuable information, and stay in touch with family and friends. With your help, seniors can be safe in that online world — just the way you keep them safe in the real world.

Author: Kimberly Barnes

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5 Places that Will Delight Your Inner Child

Monday, March 17, 2014

The whole idea behind taking your kids on vacation is to broaden their horizons. You want them to appreciate history and be amazed by what’s out in the world. Of course, this can lead to boredom.

No matter how hard you work at it, your kids just don’t think the place you chose was fun. However, you can’t just do what they want since you can’t go on most of the rides and the ones you can go on, they can’t. This is where you need to look for places that delight your inner child. Here are five great suggestions to start you off.

The Mystery Spot

Ever spend hours traveling to a fabulous location only to find out the thing you wanted to see is closed? Then you might want to try The Mystery Spot where the only thing on the fritz is gravity. That’s right; right outside Santa Cruz, CA is a gravitational anomaly where normal physics seem to have taken its own vacation. Make sure to take a tennis ball or slinky, because you definitely won’t believe your eyes.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Boston

There are LEGOLAND Discovery Centers all over the world. However, when one opens for the first time, there’s ten times the excitement. On May 23rd 2014, the LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Boston will be opening their doors. These indoor complexes feature the famous toy as well as interesting learning potential alongside some amazing models.

Harry Potter Museum

Many amusement parks try to recreate the experience of Harry Potter through roller coasters and fancy rides. That is not needed at the Harry Potter Museum outside Warner Brothers London studios. This museum features some of the actual sets from the historic movie series. This is probably the closest thing to being in the real Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Retro Computer Museum

Ever feel like technology has passed you by? Remember those days when games and home computers still made sense or at least didn’t confuse you? Well, you and your kids can experience all these old tech classics at the retro computer museum. Special focus has been given to the computers found inside the home. The Retro Computer Museum includes all the gaming consoles you grew up with. See if your kids can compete with the games you grew up with.

Toys “R” Us Time Square

The biggest toy store in the world has to be the internet, but that’s not nearly as exciting as seeing things in person. One of NY’s biggest attractions is one of the largest toy stores in the world. The flagship store for Toys “R” Us features a 60 ft Ferris wheel, a 20 ft T-Rex that roars, and a life-size Barbie doll house. It spans 110,000 square feet of space with tons of interactive displays and toys for all ages.

Carlo Pandian is a freelance writer interested in creative play, free time activities and travel. Recently he babysat for his niece so he researched the best kids attractions to visit for her and himself sharing the results in this guest feature for the GreatAuPair blog.


The Mystery Spot

LDC Boston


Harry Potter Museum

Retro computer museum

Toys “R” Us Time Square

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Register at GreatAuPairUSA new lower Program Fee’s for AuPairs

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tired of waiting to be placed with a US host family? Want to come to the US in March or April? Register at GreatAuPair and choose your own host family. GreatAuPair has families waiting for you, and new you can afford to change agencies with our new lower Program fee’s. Apply now:

Why is GreatAuPair better than the other J-1 agencies?
• There are no domestic airfare fees.
• You arrive in the US 3 weeks after you make your match.
• You’re involved with choosing your host family.
• You train from your home country allowing you to meet your host family sooner.
• Your insurance benefit has a maximum coverage of $250,000, which is $200,000 more than the Department of State requires.

Au pair requirements and costs are found here:

For additional information please contact us at:

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Apply to become a J-1 au pair with GreatAuPair USA!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Want to come to the US in February?
Are you 18-26 years of age?
Do you speak English?
Do you love working with children?
Are you interested in traveling and experiencing new cultures?
Would you like to be an au pair for a US host family?

We have families ready to hire you now. Apply here:

Read about Au pair requirements and costs:

Contact us with your questions at:

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Going on Vacation with your Host Family

Friday, July 12, 2013

Whether it’s a summer trip to a tropical destination, or a winter escape to visit the grandparents, you may be asked to travel with your host family. It’s difficult to travel long distances with young children, and the family can often use your help. How do you adjust to working in a new environment, while keeping the children entertained? How will your schedule and routine change? Here are a few pointers we have for you.


You may be traveling via plane, train, boat, or car with the host family for extended periods of time. Make sure that you have activities for the children that will keep them occupied on the trip. This can include a coloring book and crayons, a few video games, or movies and a portable DVD player. Don’t forget an extra set of headphones!

You may even want to give older kids crossword puzzles to enjoy. For car rides, you can also play games with kids, such as “Spot this License Plate” where you all look for a license plate from a certain state.

If you’re traveling by plane, make sure the kids have their own small carry-ons filled with goodies and activities to keep them entertained. This will keep them busy both on and off the plane. Make sure to pack a stroller for younger children, in case they become tired. Don’t forget to remind older children that during takeoff and landing electronic devices must be turned off.



If you’ve never traveled with your host family before and aren’t sure how it all works out, be sure to take the time to ask them any questions you might have in advance. For example, will you be  sleeping with the children at night or will you have your own room? How many hours during the day will the family need you to care for the children?  How much leisure time will you have on your own?  What expenses should you expect to cover?

Make sure that you discuss your responsibilities in advance. You don’t need a written agreement, but it’s best to understand expectations and arrangements prior to your trip. The agreement should outline duties and responsibilities, as well as any incentives or changes in schedule. This shouldn’t be an uncomfortable or pushy conversation; it’s just a way to clarify vacation expectations.


Make sure to schedule some downtime for yourself. Since you’re on vacation with the family, it may feel as though you’re always on duty if you don’t take time for yourself. It’s better to communicate with your host family your needs and wants in order for everyone to have an enjoyable time. However, keep in mind that although you are on a family vacation, you are being paid to work and maintain your professionalism.


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