Maintain a Healthy Weight and Water Intake Using Partner Apps

Maintaining weight or shedding pounds to get to your optimal healthy weight often proves to be easier said than done. For senior caregivers and their clients, nutrition plays a large part in living a healthy lifestyle. Weight alone doesn't determine health, but being overweight can be an indicator of needing to improve your overall nutrition. Likewise, maintaining a healthy weight once you've reached it is equally important. The MyPlate app and its sister MyWater app help caregivers track their calorie and water intake on a daily basis. 

The MyPlate app serves as the main app. Once a user establishes their profile with their personal data and health goals, he/she can begin to track their calories. The app sets a calorie goal based on the information provided and across the top of the home screen users see their number of calories consumed and burned for that particular day. To log food products, users can simply scan a label ir type the name into the search field. The food intake categories break down for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

The water button takes users to the accompanying MyWater app, where users select a goal for how many glasses of water they would like to drink each day, then log how much they drink. The app lets users choose how many ounces their glass is so they can accurately count glasses. Drinking water provides necessary hydration for the body to maintain health and seniors in particular should ensure they drink the suggested amount of water every day for healthy aging. 

The apps work seamlessly together and the MyPlate app lays out healthy eating in a clean visual on the home screen. Caregivers should be able to easily track their calories and goals using this tool.

The MyPlate and MyWater apps are available for Apple and Android platforms. 

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

Julianne Moore is Still Alice

It happens to everyone, I think. The missing keys, the lost word, that moment when you walk into a room and forget what you came in for. When it happens to me, I get a brief moment of fear that it might be something a little worse and a little more frightening than simple forgetfulness. At my age, I worry that it might be just a harbinger for more serious things to come.

Still Alice is a story that takes us into the world of a woman — a scholar, wife, and mother — for whom that fear becomes a reality when she’s diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Based on Lisa Genova's 2007 bestselling novel of the same name, it’s the story of a linguistics professor who struggles to hang on to her memories, and herself during her swift deterioration. And by all accounts, Julianne Moore's performance is incredible.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease is a fairly rare form of dementia that strikes people younger than 65. As in the movie, it’s common for those with the disease to exhibit symptoms beginning in their 50s. Most early-onset Alzheimer’s is genetic, and although not backed by hard data, the perception is that early-onset Alzheimer’s progresses more quickly than Alzheimer’s disease experienced later in life.

The movie co-stars Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish as Alice’s three grown children who watch their brilliant mother fade away while learning they may inherit her disease. Alec Baldwin co-stars as her husband, and after the great chemistry they showed on 30 Rock, I can’t wait to see them together here in a more dramatic pairing.

Here’s a clip from the movie in which Julianne Moore’s Alice discusses the short but beautiful lifespan of butterflies with her family caregiver, daughter Lydia:

The movie, and especially Ms. Moore’s performance (The Hollywood Reporter's Scott Feinberg calls it “nuanced and heartbreaking,”) were such a hit at the Toronto International Film Festival that there’s been a lot of talk about this role finally garnering her an Oscar. She’s had four nominations but no wins to date.

If you live in New York or Los Angeles, you’ll be able to see the movie on December 5, 2014 (in time to be considered by the Academy). For the rest of the country, the film is set for U.S. wide-release on January 16, 2015.

I remember reading the Caregiverlist Alzheimer's Diary by Norm McNamara back when we published it in 2011. Mr. McNamara gave us a peek into what living with Alzheimer’s is like in that one-day entry. I imagine the heartrending research Julianne Moore must have gone through to prepare for her role. These point-of-view looks into the life of those afflicted with memory loss disease is as close as I want to get, but I think it’s so valuable for us to see and try to empathize with the millions of Alzheimer’s sufferers around the world.

Chicken Salad for Autumn Days

Sweater weather, as we like to say, has arrived in many parts of the U.S.A.  While it may still not be cool enough to create an appetite for chicken pot pie, this chicken salad brings in a flavor of fall with the addition of healthy and colorful cranberries.  Senior caregivers looking for a new dish to serve their senior client can also use this recipe as a conversation starter.

Chicken Salad for Autumn Days 

Contributed by Caregiver Sherpa Samantha Franklin

4 cups diced poached chicken, recipe follows
1 stalk celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced or 1/4 cup sweet onion cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 cup prepared or homemade mayonnaise
2 teaspoons strained freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup of sliced almonds
1/2 cup of cranberries 

In a mixing bowl, toss together the chicken, celery, scallions and herbs. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper to taste. Add to the chicken and mix gently until combined. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
 
 

Colors of Dawn in Connecticut: Stress Relief Photo of the Week

Although we often miss it, the dawn of a new day can be colorful and amazing.  This week's photo features an October dawn in Connecticut, and was one worth grabbing the camera and heading outside in the cool autumn air. Caregiverlisinvites you to take a moment to enjoy the photo and share it with loved ones. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for your hard work and caring for our seniors. More caregivers are always needed as seniors in America are living longer. You can learn more about becoming a senior caregiver and apply for a job near you.  Take some time to enjoy the beauty around us, and have a great week. 
 

"Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"

   - L.M. Montgomery

White House Plans Conference on Aging in 2015

Americans are living longer than ever. One hundred years ago, in 1914, a man’s life expectancy was 52 years, a woman’s almost 57. If you are 65 years old in 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as a man, you will live to about 83 and if you are a woman, your life expectancy is about 80 ½  years old.

In order to address the needs and concerns of an aging population, the White House is gearing up for its sixth White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA), to be held in 2015. The first conference was held in 1961, with subsequent conferences held each decade since.

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act. It’s also the 80th anniversary of Social Security. The 2015 White House Conference on Aging is an opportunity to look at these programs and see what public policies need to be implemented to understand the issues facing older Americans, their families and their caregivers.

WHCoA in 2015 will address four main issues: retirement security, healthy aging, long-term services and supports, and elder justice.

Financial security for retirees has changed in the last few decades, with fewer employers providing pensions. The future of Social Security is always in question and the need to protect that benefit is crucial to U.S. citizens retiring with dignity. Many older Americans have seen their retirement savings fall with the economy. The question of when to retire is being replaced with IF to retire. The conference will address “improving wages and benefits for all American workers—especially older workers—and ensuring opportunities for older Americans who choose to remain in the workforce, can provide additional avenues for income security in retirement.”

Healthy aging is made possible with better life choices including healthy eating, exercise, health screenings and supportive communities.

Senior care costs continue to escalate and it’s a fact that as we live longer, many of us will need assistance with the activities of daily living, whether it be through home care, assisted living, or nursing homes. Less than three percent of Americans currently have a long-term care insurance policy. WHCoA will explore new options to help Americans in preparing for their long-term care needs as they age.

The elderly are one of the most vulnerable segments of our society. Scam artists are just waiting to bilk people out of their savings. Physical and emotional neglect and abuse cut across economic, racial and ethnic lines, affecting seniors regardless of where they live.

Americans are encouraged to participate in the discussions. The White House is being more inclusive than ever before, bringing the conference online at www.WhiteHouseConferenceOnAging.gov, which will provide regular updates on Conference events and activities. You can get involved by signing up for weekly emails, or sharing your thoughts on elder issues or stories celebrating the contributions of older Americans.

Health Tips for Seniors to Age Well

Aging well and in place is a top priority for senior caregivers and the senior clients they serve on a daily basis. Living healthy doesn't mean you and your clients need to make drastic changes in the way you're living, though. Sometimes making a few small changes to your daily routine can have a profound difference in your health. The 101 Revolutionary Ways to Be Healthy app presents 101 categories of health tips and several more subcategories that break the tips down into actions for a healthier life. 

When users first open the app, they are presented with all 101 tips in a tiled fashion. Caregivers can swipe left or right to browse through the tips, which include "Make Time," "Ditch Debt," and "Break a Sweat." Once users see a tip that interests them, they can click on the tile to get more information and specific actions to improve health. Under the "Break a Sweat" tip, the subcategories include "One Crazy Workout," "Fit in a Flash," and "Test Your Endurance." Between the six subcategories, caregivers can pick the one action that most interests them and click on it and go to an article with further details- in this case, a high intensity work out. 

Not all tips in the app will apply to every user. The high intensity workout under Break a Sweat probably isn't appropriate for a senior, but other sections include tips on how to naturally dispel heartburn, change or create new habits and intuitive eating to lose weight. The app features a "Surprise Me" function that takes the user to a random tip. Sit down with a senior client once a day and let the app take you to a new random tip, then together pick a subcategory to read about. It will give you a chance to learn about healthy living together and possibly find a new change you can make together for healthy aging. 

The 101 Revolutionary Ways to Be Healthy app is available for Apple and Andriod platforms. 

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

Is Jibo Your New Senior Companion?

As you senior caregiver readers know, I’ve embarked on a mission to bring some technology into my elderly mother’s home so she can live independently longer, the way she wants to live. I made a list of her needs, the most important of which are keeping safe, connected, and engaged.

My mother is not alone in her needs. The 80+ age group is the fastest-growing segment of the world’s population. By 2050, it is estimated that there will be 392 million persons over the age of 80, more than three times the present. At the same time, there will be fewer caregivers for the elderly. Smaller and more geographically disparate families mean fewer family caregivers.  We are already experiencing a shortage of trained certified nurse assistants and home care aides. And, of course, ever-increasing senior care costs, whether in the home or in an institutional setting, means the entire system of elderly care needs to be rethought.

Technological advancements are growing exponentially, just as is our elder population. It makes sense, then, that someone utilize the advances in technology to address the true needs of people. The Jetsons’ Rosie, Luke Skywalker’s C3PO, fiction is rife with examples of robot family helpers. Beyond the physical assistance these robots provided, they were also companions and assistants. Those imaginings are now becoming reality.

Jibo, the “world’s first family robot”, is the brainchild of MIT professor and social robotics pioneer Dr. Cynthia Breazeal. Dr. Breazeal saw the necessity for technology that supports the needs of the human being.

“I do this because I want to empower people to stay healthier, to learn better, to age with dignity and independence (my emphasis)”, Dr. Breazeal writes on the Jibo blog. “... to support more empathic and emotionally engaging telecommunication with those you love, to delight and surprise & entertain so that people laugh and experience joy and wonderment more often, and to make our lives just a bit easier with a touch of technological magic.”

For seniors, that means an “attentive companion that can help you live with greater independence and stay connected to those you love.”

Here’s what Jibo can do (from the Jibo website):
See
Two hi-res cameras recognize and track faces, capture photos, and enable immersive video calling.
Hear
360° microphones and natural language processing let you talk to Jibo from anywhere in the room.
Speak
Hands-free reminders and messages, so you'll never forget and can always be in touch.
Learn
Artificial Intelligence algorithms learn your preferences to adapt and fit into your life.
Help
Like a personal assistant, Jibo proactively helps you, to make everyday tasks simpler and easier.
Relate
Communicates and expresses using natural social and emotive cues so you understand each other better.

Here's Jibo in action:



The Indiegogo campaign to crowdsource funding for Jibo started on July 16 and ended on September 14, 2014 and raised $2,289,506, and astonishing 2,290% of its $100,000 goal. Those numbers make it the most successful technology campaign on Indiegogo to date.

Over 4,800 Jibos were pre-ordered at $499, 28% of which are Developer Editions and upgrades (new application development is ongoing.) 71 Jibos will be donated to Boston Children's Hospital.

What do you think about Jibo and the future of carebots? Is this something you would welcome into your home? Personally, I’d love to see it in action. And if the response on Indiegogo is any indication, Siri’s in for some stiff competition.

A Walk on the Wavy Side: Stress Relief Photo

The waves may look wild, but they can also be stunning and invigorating. This week's photo was taken at the lakefront in Chicago. Caregiverlisinvites you to take a moment to enjoy the photo and share it with loved ones. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for your hard work and caring for our seniors. Caregivers employed with senior care companies know the realities of caregiver stress. Senior care training briefs help senior caregivers to understand various senior illnesses and keep up with the latest care techniques to relieve caregiving stress. We hope you can take some time to yourselves and have a great week. 

"It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up." -Vince Lombardi

Seniors Online, Connected

America’s seniors may be late to the game, but are now finding their way online in significant numbers, according to the Pew Research Internet Project’s latest findings. The data also points to the fact that tech adoption varies within the senior population, with younger, more educated and affluent seniors using internet and at-home broadband at “rates approaching—or even exceeding—the general population.”
The study shows that  six in ten seniors go online, and just under half are broadband adopters. Once online, seniors make the internet a part of their daily routine. Many older adults that use social networking sites like Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family. Interestingly, those that socialize online are more likely to regularly socialize with friends offline as well, in person, or over the telephone.

In which I get my mom hooked up.

I wake up at four in the morning worried about my mother. She lives only 5 miles and 20 minutes away but I know she’s alone (by choice) and maybe lonely. When I voice my concerns, she assures me she wasn’t lonely, she was asleep, and I don’t need to worry about her as she “has gotten used to” living alone. She prefers to age at home, even if it means living a certain level of isolation. I wish I could see her. Today. Right now. Have breakfast with her (well, I’d wait until she was up.)

If only there was some sort of technology that would make it easy to look at the person to whom you were talking. It would be great if you could talk on a television-like device like they did in old sci-fi movies. Oh, right.

My 83 year old mother has Skyped.  She’s watched the videos I’ve posted of her grandchildren on YouTube. We’ve talked about getting broadband into her home to make it easier for her to connect with us and with her family in Europe. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share with you the process of getting my mom online.

First step: determine need and level of tech comfort.

The extent of my mother’s ownership of technology begins and ends with her cell phone (not even a smartphone.) She has used my laptop to Skype, so she’s comfortable with and enjoys that application. So in determining the best hardware to purchase, we have to look at what she will be utilizing and how. Let’s face it—she’s not creating spreadsheets and newsletters.

Family photos and videos
With family scattered all over the world, photo and video sharing is one way we can all catch up. Full screen, high resolution images make it possible for her to see without her glasses. Headphones or amplified speakers will make sounds easier to hear.

Video calling   
Like the aforementioned Skype, video communication would get a lot of use here. I would much rather see her when speaking to her. And since she’s not getting on a plane to her homeland anytime soon, it’s great when technology affords her the ability to see and speak with her 78-year-old baby brother.

E-books
She loves to read, but we are exhausting all the large-print titles in the library. An e-book reader, where font size can be increased to reading comfort, would open a whole world of reading that she would otherwise find impossible. And no more late fees!

Internet access
I’m not sure about how important this is. She’s used to getting her news and weather from television. It would be interesting to see if those habits would change if she had access to information online.

Social networking
Facebook, maybe. Twitter, no. Pew found that 46 percent of those 65 and older use social networking sites, although just 27 percent of internet users over 80 access social networking sites. Many senior websites including AARP have their own online communities, however, I think my mother would be most interested in socializing with family and friends rather than joining forums, but I might be wrong.

Senior caregivers, this is where I’m starting. I know there are stand-alone computers made especially for seniors, where the keyboard buttons are big and the set-up and operation is easy and stress-free. I’m going to start my research there and see what they have to offer. Next week I will let you know if a desktop model like Telikin or portable tablet like Claris Companion fits the bill for this family.

If you have any suggestions for hardware, software, or other technology for seniors, or want to share stories of getting your senior online, please leave them in the comments.

Dementia Prevention Through Brain Fitness

Keeping the brain fit as seniors age plays a large part in prevention of the onset of dementia. As senior caregivers work with their clients, finding little ways to keep their minds active can help avoid memory loss. The Fit Brains app gives seniors a series of games intended to improve memory, speed and overall functionality of the brain.

New users to the app are first asked to identify functions of the brain they would like to work on improving the most, such as problem solving or thinking speed. Seniors can choose from any of the listed categories as all of the games within the app will accomplish the goal of exercising the brain on a regular basis.

Once the user has completed their profile set up, the app takes them to the first games to work on the targeted areas identified by the initial questions. The games feature simple concepts, such as matching two of the same symbols from a group of different shapes and colors or sorting fruits as quickly as possible into their matching categories (I.e. bananas on the left, cherries on the right).

Once time runs out on a game, the app brings up a score summary. As users play the same game over time, they can see all of their scores and compare to see how their brain activity in a certain area like speed has improved as they've completed the exercise more times. The app also features some information on brain fitness and how specifically the games in the app challenge the brain in the right way to keep all areas of the brain engaged.

The Fit Brains app is available for free for Apple and Android platforms. 

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

 

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