Chugging Through the Countryside

Caregivers provide companionship to seniors, as well as caregiving and caregivers must remember to "care for the caregiver." Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for your hard work and caring for our seniors. This week's stress relief photo was taken near Robertsbridge in East Sussex, England and features and old steam train winding its way through the countryside on a beautiful autumn day. Please enjoy the photo and the quote and feel free to share them with loved ones. Have a great week.

"There's something about the sound of a train that's very romantic and nostalgic and hopeful."

 -Paul Simon

Find New Hobby With Night Sky App for Stargazing

For caregivers and their senior clients looking for a new hobby to break up their daily routine, getting outside and viewing the night sky offers a way to connect with nature without needing to leave your porch. As the days get shorter and we prepare to fall back for daylight saving time, the evenings of darkness provide excellent opportunities to stargaze using the Night Sky app. 

The Night Sky app initially presents a user guide to show users the multiple functions of the app, including identifying which constellations users see at a given time and making recommendations for the best time of day to watch the sky. The app uses the camera on a user's phone and location services to set up the night sky view on the homepage. 

As caregivers point their phone towards the area of sky they're looking at and tilt it around, the app shows the constellations on the screen in beautifully illustrations. The constellations in the sky don't actually portray a detailed illustration of a man though, so when users select a constellation and tap it on the homepage, it pulls up a page with more information on the constellation.

The individual constellation pages provide a myriad of details, such as the official name, the symbolism and the visibility, as well as information on the stars that make up the constellation and its place in mythology. Senior caregivers and their clients could take fifteen minutes and learn about one new constellation a day as a way to shake up their regular routine. 

Even if users live in an urban area with light pollution or attempt to look outside on a cloudy night, they will still be able to use the app to find where the stars lie in the sky despite not being able to see them in person. The Stargazing Weather section of the app gives an hourly stargazing conditions rating to help caregivers decide when it's best to step outside and see the stars. 

Despite a handful of requests to rate the app or advertisements to buy accompanying products such as a telescope, the Night Sky app provides comprehensive information and functionality for being a free app. The Night Sky Lite app is 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

Embracing Change: Stress Relief Photo for Senior Caregivers

Change is in the air, as summer has faded to autumn. Senior care training assists caregivers to better manage a senior's care needs and manage caregiver stress. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for your hard work and caring for our seniors. This week's stress relief photo was taken at Chartwell, Winston Churchill's home near Westerham in Kent, England. Please enjoy and feel free to share the photo and inspirational quote with loved ones. We hope you have a great week.

"Continuity give us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow to reach new heights." 

-Pauline Kezer

Caregivers May Improve Brain Functions Using Elevate App

It's easy to get stuck in a monotonous routine day in and day out, especially for senior caregivers and their clients. For senior clients, maintaining and using various brain functions on a regular basis helps ensure their mind stays active. Help your senior clients maintain their brain functions and prevent the onset of dementia by using the Elevate app. 

Elevate focuses on improving brain functions in core areas such as focus, speech skills, reading comprehension, etc. When users first download and open the app, they are presented with tests specifically designed to measure their current performance in categories such as reading, writing, math, etc. The base scores give users a benchmark to measure all future performance against. 

As part of the set up, users also indicate what areas they would like to see improvement in skill-wise. Caregivers can use areas such as the writing brevity test to strengthen writing skills for communicating with the family of a senior client. If senior clients enjoy reading as a hobby, they can improve their reading comprehension by taking advantage of the Processing test, which shows various passages at an increasing words read per minute speed and quizzing users on the content afterwards. 

The creators established different levels for users effectively, making sure the introductory quiz matches the content levels of the tests. While a caregiver might fly through a reading test, their senior client may start at a lower level to match their needs. Once users complete the initial set up, the app offers them a weekly learning plan with reminder notifications. After five training sessions, users can visit the Study area of the app to participate in practice exercises in between sessions. 

Users can measure their progress week after week by viewing their personal scores under the Performance area of the app. Make it into a fun competition with your senior client by seeing who can improve by the most points over an eight week period. Instead of comparing who has the most overall points, see who can earn the most from their starting point to the end date to make it fair. 

The Elevate app is 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

California Governor Makes Assisted Suicide Legal

Senior caregivers working as professional caregivers can share many stories of seniors and their families who have struggled with when to embrace hospice care and accept the process of dying.  Aging gracefully comes with accepting mental, emotional and physical health realities that do not arrive wrapped in gracefulness.  

America's seniors receive either Medicare health care or Medicaid (for low-income seniors with few assets). If a senior has been diagnosed with a terminal condition with two years or less to live, they may accept hospice care.  Hospice care respects the dignity of the senior to maintain their comfort as they journey through their illness, accepting their body will eventually be unable to function without assistance and accepting that they do not want additional assistance to remain alive.

As advances in medicine and technology are allowing us to live longer, the new questions arising are focused on how do we want these longer years to be?  The recent best-selling book "Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande, a medical doctor (and excellent writer), focuses on how we should begin the conversations with our loved ones on how we want to age.

California's law joins the law in the state of Oregon to give their residents the right to "death with dignity".  This week Governor Jerry Brown stepped forward to sign the bill his state's assembly had approved.  The governor accepted the opposition of some in order to respect the right for mentally competent adults who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness with six months or less to live to have the choice to accept lethal prescriptions.

Hospice caregivers who have been with someone dying can share stories of hearing the death rattle noises coming from a terminal patient as they lose their ability to swallow.  Doctors, nurses and hospice professionals who support the death with dignity movement bring an approach to care that supports caring for someone as they are dying by providing comfort, just as we try to provide comfort when caring for those who will recover from an illness.

Barbara Coombs Lee, a nurse who serves as the president of Compassion & Choices, shares the story of Brittany Maynard, who through her terminal cancer diagnosis stepped up to be the force behind the movement to change the laws in California to allow for residents to choose to die with dignity.  She wanted her family caregivers to know that she had planned ahead for a dignified death.

Brittany's video had 100 million views.  You can learn more about Compassion & Choices initiative to support death with dignity in additional states in the U.S.A. 

Peaceful Evening on the Pacific for Caregiver Stress Relief

The beach, with daylight fading away, and waves crashing, is a beautiful and relaxing place. This week's photo was taken on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua. We invite you to take a moment to relax and enjoy the photo and inspirational quote and share them with loved ones. Thank you caregivers and certified nursing aides for your hard work and the care you provide 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. Have a great week.

"Smell the sea, and feel the sky. Let your soul and spirit fly."  -Van Morrison

Super Better Game Helps You Get and Stay Stronger

“I’m game”!  What thoughts go through your mind when someone says this?  If thoughts of excitement, exhilaration, challenge, friendship and the thrill of winning come to mind, then you are like the majority of people who enjoy playing a good game. All of these positive thoughts have now been studied and confirmed as truly brain changing. 

Jane McGonigal, a senior researcher at the Institute for the Future has developed a game that assists anyone, including senior caregivers, to move into the gaming mindset to feel better and achieve goals in their daily life.  She has a new book, titled Super Better, along with a free SuperBetter App to allow everyone to step into the gaming mindset and enjoy the resulting benefits.

Jane visited Chicago this week to talk about her book, her research and the free Super Better App at her new office in Chicago (just a couple blocks from Caregiverlist, Inc. at the Chicago Merchandise Mart).

If you thought playing games was not a good use of your time, Jane’s research may surprise you. She now has research studies to back up her findings that your brain does change when you are in the gaming mindset.  Her current focus is on those recovering from traumatic brain injuries or experiencing mental illness such as depression or addiction.  Her own experience recovering from a concussion led her to build the Super Better game and the free Super Better App.  

You are stronger than you know.
You are surrounded by potential allies.
You are the hero of your own story.

By being gameful you can combat extreme stress and personal challenge and thrive and this is what both Jane's book and game will teach you how to do.

How does this work?

Have you ever helped lift heavy furniture from one room to the next? When doing so, you are thinking about how to leverage the furniture in conjunction with the other person assisting with the lifting and you communicate on how you will shift the piece of furniture without damaging it or the walls and floor and without hurting yourself or the other person. As you do this, your brains are "in synch". The same thing happens when you are playing a video game with someone else, or any game. However, this is most effective when playing a game with a friend or family member. The brain chemistry, so to speak, truly changes and delivers more positive emoticons, as we might say. The vagus nerve, for instance, connects the mind to many important organs in the body and mediates the relationship between emotions and physical health and is improved when you are immersed in a game.

The SuperBetter App presents a game that will result in the player being able to stay strong, motivated and optimistic, even in the face of difficult obstacles. Playing SuperBetter allows players to become capable of getting through any tough situation and more likely to achieve their goals. Results have been proven by playing for just 10 minutes a day. A nurse shared a story of assisting a patient who was battling depression. After being given a prescription for anti-depressants, the person returned for their check-up visit showing signs of improvement. However, it turned out they were unable to afford to buy the medications and instead played the free SuperBetter App game and said that this had helped them to step out of their depressed state.

McGonigal has organized the ways we think and act when we play games into 7 actions that contribute to post-traumatic and post-ecstatic growth when implemented:

  1. Adopt a Challenge Mindset

  2. Seek out Whatever Makes you Stronger and Happier

  3. Strive for Psychological Flexibility

  4. Take Committed Action

  5. Cultivate Connectedness

  6. Find the Heroic Story

  7. Learn the Skill of Benefit Finding

The 7 Rules to Live By from the SuperBetter Method:

  1. Challenge yourself

  2. Collect and activate power-ups

  3. Find and battle the bad guys

  4. Seek out and complete quests

  5. Recruit your allies

  6. Adopt a secret identity

  7. Go for an epic win

Studies also show that those who are caring for others who are experiencing mental illness also find benefits when playing SuperBetter.  As seniors can be at high risk for alcoholism and depression, senior caregivers can add game playing to their tool kit and now know that research backs up the benefits of being a game player.

Digital Art on Display Using Artsy App

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to the Natural Museum of Korea, thousands upon thousands of works of art across various mediums fill galleries worldwide. The Artsy app eliminates the requirement of traveling extensively across the globe to experience museums by placing entire galleries at your fingertips. Senior caregivers can see art as a form of stress relief as well as a way to connect with senior clients. 

When users first download the Artsy app, they are greeted with a homepage featuring a slideshow across the top and featured "Current Shows" below. For its design, the app gives off a modern art museum guide feel with a clean cut black and white navigation area and a single rotating thin black bar when a new page loads. The content-heavy app feels easy to navigate with the static bottom bar listing the different categories. 

The app features almost too many different ways to access content, including search by name or city of the museum, viewing a list of current shows or the top 50 shows of the moment, and browsing the in-app version of the magazine. Caregivers might find it easiest to start with a museum familiar to his/her senior client, such as one near a city where he/she grew up. That way senior clients can share commentary on installations they've seen before in the permanent collections as well as flip through an exhibit they might not be able to visit in person. 

The level of detail within the app is nearly unparalleled. As users delve into the specific exhibits at a particular museum, they will find much of the same descriptive information about a painting that they would from standing next to it in the exhibit. Individual museums have a list and summary of "All Shows" that have been part of the app, specific "Works" featured, items from their "Shop," "Articles" about the installations and "Contact information." 

The level of content may seem overwhelming, but senior caregivers and their clients can make a hobby to "visit" a different city within the app each month. You'll quickly find you've gone on a cultural trot around the globe and through time from the comfort of your own couch. If caregivers create a free account within the app, they can save works and artists to their favorites to revisit later. Senior caregivers could even put together a virtual gallery of a senior client's personal favorites within the app to share with loved ones. 

The Artsy 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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