Innovative Caption Glasses – Movies Accessible to Deaf & Hard of Hearing

Movie time has long been a family tradition for many, with multiple generations sharing big screen laughs, tears, fright and adventure. Movies and the theater experience have changed over the years, but family time at the movies endures.

Since the advent of sound in film, though, those who are deaf and hard of hearing have had few chances to share the same level of enjoyment as other family members. Movies with captions have largely been limited to certain theaters, select movies and special showings.

Those who don’t want want others to know of their hearing loss might not want to use some of the special accommodations various theaters have made — but the answer may be here.

Many Left Out of Movie Enjoyment

Too many grandparents with hearing loss find themselves left out of movie outings with grandchildren – either left at home or missing a key dimension of the movie. You don’t have to be a senior, of course, to miss out on spoken word in the theater because of a hearing impairment.

Innovative technology from Sony and a customer-friendly approach by the Regal Entertainment Group are putting out the welcome mat for the entire family.

We want to highlight the technology and those putting it to use, both to inform family caregivers and to encourage other companies to develop technologies that improve the lives of our senior loved ones.

Entertainment Access Glasses

While Google Glass is capturing lots of buzz about the future of entertainment technology, another set of glasses is already making a big difference in the ability of many to join the entertainment in the movie theater. Sony’s Entertainment Access Glasses use holographic technology to put closed captions right on the lenses to give users the text and picture in one unobstructed view. The glasses fit over other glasses the user may be wearing and have filters that can be inserted so a full 3D experience can be enjoyed.

We encountered these unique caption glasses by chance, looking through the movie listings in our area. After long seeing captioned movies limited to a single movie at a time in a local theater and none at all in the multiplex closest to us, we were very pleasantly surprised to see the caption symbol next to all movies and showtimes at our local Regal Cinema. We just had to try it out.

Putting the Glasses to the Test

The party for our trip to the movies included a deaf member who was skeptical about the advertised captioning after experiencing frustration with awkward and ineffective assistive devices in the past. We didn’t see any signs about the glasses in the theater but the first person we asked sent us right to the manager, who quickly got us set up and walked through some easy instructions.

Thumbs up all around was our verdict after everyone tried the glasses, with extra enthusiasm from the former skeptic – – who is looking forward to the next movie.

We let the manager of the Regal Cinema know we loved the glasses and appreciate them being made available.

This is a great example of technology that improves lives, because entertainment is an important aspect of our lives, and helps bring generations together. We applaud the innovation shown by Sony and Regal, because it takes both the development of the device and making it available in theaters to provide the benefit to moviegoers.

We thought this video from Regal Cinemas website does a great job at explaining the Entertainment Access Glasses and how they’re used in the theater and hope you’ll use it to help deaf and hard of hearing loved ones share in the movie experience.

Knowing Where a Senior Lives Will Help Doctors Improve Their Health

Technology – really what it can mean to our lives – is amazing. There are things happening in the field of healthcare every day using technology to make our lives and health better.

Yet another highly anticipated technological wave of the future is poised to make a difference in how our doctors diagnose and treat our health conditions and it is called geomedicine.

What’s geomedicine, you might be asking. Geomedicine includes the technology of healthcare devices that utilize a GPS bluetooth tracker system, collecting data which is entered into what is known as a geographic information system (GIS). The data collection, hardware and software of the GIS will determine environmental factors affecting health. Many devices using GIS are currently in development, with plans for FDA approval and clinical trials in the not too distant future.

Geomedicine & Our Senior Loved Ones

Geomedicine will utilize applications that incorporate geotracking of our location and surroundings to learn about the environmental factors that contribute to making us sick. Using this information, our doctors can individually tailor a treatment plan to the toxins, air quality and other dangers in our daily environments.

Environmental tracking of our daily places and their associated health risks has been called “another vital sign” by epidemiologists.

Disease hot spots can be monitored and analyzed, with the data trended to benefit those in the area.

Healthcare providers can use the GPS locators to find resources and agencies nearest to the senior and connect them with social services such as senior housing, senior care centers, and food banks.

The GPS locator will email health alerts when there is a threat in the locale of your senior such as air quality, pollen, inclement weather or other conditions which may negatively affect the particular disease being treated.

Geomedicine Innovations Currently in the Pipeline

  1. Asthma inhaler that has a GPS tracking device to alert the physician when and where the inhaler was used. What environmental factors determined the need for use of an inhaler such as agriculture, dust, construction, weather, air quality, etc.
  2. Flu tracker that locates areas with highest prevalence of flu.
  3. Monitors of air quality risk factors that could negatively impact COPD, asthma and other lung disease patients.
  4. Applications that determine toxin exposure associated with living in different places, your place history. It can track areas where a person spent more than two years of their life detailing exposure leading to health risks such as factory emissions, smog, and chemicals used in the local vicinity.
  5. Ability to determine your water quality and its effect on your health.

If where you travel, live and have lived can impact your health and that of your loved ones, would you want technology that tells you and your doctor?

What Will Geomedicine Mean for Medical Data Security?

As with so much of technology today, there are concerns associated with the security and privacy of health information generated by the GPS & GIS tracking. Many companies are deciding that, in order to move forward with development of these products, a guarantee of privacy must be achieved. Many have stated that no medical record data will be available using this technology. It will be up to each participant to determine what data is being shared and what will remain private. Addresses can be used but not sensitive data.

Will that be enough — or too restrictive?

Many are concerned that some private information gleaned from these devices could be used against the senior. Data could be sold to marketers who will inundate seniors with pressure to purchase certain products capitalizing on their health risks. Some fear that using this environmental exposure information could result in denial or termination of health insurance plans. That only scratches the surface of the issues that will most certainly be raised.

Technology innovation and the advances that result will continue to make improvements in the health outcomes of our senior loved ones. With the new technology will come added pressure to maintain the utmost security. We feel the benefits outweigh the risks and look forward to learning about more new technologies in the future and promise to keep you informed.

It is, after all, only the health of those we love!

Sun Protection and Skin Cancer – Family Caregiver Video Tips

Someone dies from melanoma (skin cancer) in the U.S. each hour! Don’t let someone you love (or yourself) be part of that statistic.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., with more than two million people diagnosed annually. In fact, there are more new cases of skin cancer each year than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers combined.

98% survive a skin cancer diagnosis, particularly when it is caught early.

Even better, for most people skin cancer is preventable. There are several simple steps you can take to reduce your risk and that of family members.

Senior loved ones may feel that because they’ve lived their lives in the sun they don’t need to protect themselves, but convince them it’s not too late to start.

Family Caregiver Sun Protection Tips

We feel that protection from the sun is important to seniors and their family caregivers. For that reason, we prepared a Senior Care Corner Video Family Caregiver Tip on sun protection, which we included below.

Some keys to protecting yourself and loved ones from the sun include:

  • Avoid skin exposure during the peak sun hours, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on sunny days
  • Apply sunscreen to exposed skin when out in the sun; choose one with an SPF of at least 15, keeping in mind that recent tests have shown expensive brands and sunscreens with high SPFs often don’t provide more protection than less expensive brands
  • Use lip balm or lipstick with at least 15 SPF
  • Remember to wear sunglasses in the sun, not for skin cancer prevention but to protect your eyesight
  • Cover all exposed areas of skin with sunscreen, protective clothing or a wide-brimmed hat

Check Skin for Possible Cancer Development

Don’t assume preventive steps are providing complete protection, but check your skin frequently. Look for changes in moles or freckles or any marks on your skin that seem suspicious or that you’re just not sure about. Get a family member to help you when it comes to those areas you can’t see yourself.

When you see something suspicious or have a question about something on your skin, ask a dermatologist to check it out for you. Don’t take a chance.

We hope you enjoy this Family Caregiver Video Tip and share it with friends and loved ones!

Be safe in the sun!


Seniors Living in a State of Health – Easier in the Healthiest States

Living a good life and being as healthy as possible — that’s what we hope for our senior loved ones. Are they achieving that, though?

The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Is your senior thinking that to age in place successfully a new home in a new town may be a healthy change?

Did you know that some locations are healthier than others for seniors as they age?

A new report that assesses the health and well-being of older adults at a state level from America’s Health Rankings Senior Health 2013 analyzes four major aspects and how they interact to impact our senior’s health. Those studied were 65 years and older.

Four Aspects of State “Health”

  1. Our senior’s behaviors such as smoking, drinking, inactivity, overweight, underweight, and pain management
  2. The environment and community in which our seniors live, their homes and surroundings such as quality nursing homes, volunteerism, poverty, food insecurity and social support
  3. The policies and practices of health, public and private such as low quality nursing homes, shortage of geriatricians, and drug coverage
  4. The care our seniors receive including dental care, hospitalizations, vaccines, health screenings, diabetes management, home health care, hospice and health outcomes

Currently 80% of seniors are diagnosed with at least one chronic disease and 50% have two or more. The health needs of seniors are more costly than the younger population by nearly twice as much. It was determined that our seniors are living longer but with more preventable chronic diseases.

Healthiest States for Seniors

  1. Minnesota
  2. Vermont
  3. Massachusetts
  4. Rhode Island
  5. Iowa

Healthiest states have a high rate of annual dental visits, a high percentage of volunteerism, a low percentage of marginal food insecurity, a high percentage of creditable drug coverage, and ready availability of home health care workers. Also there is a low rate of hospitalization for hip fractures, a high percentage of seniors who report very good or excellent health, a high prevalence of able-bodied seniors, a low premature death rate, a low prevalence of full-mouth tooth extractions, and few poor mental health days per month.

Un-Healthiest States for Seniors

  1. Mississippi
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Louisiana
  4. West Virginia
  5. Arkansas

Pennsylvania, which is a leader in spending on its elder citizens, as money from its lottery is earmarked for senior care, ranked 17.

The 34 measures calculated to determine the rankings of each state included actions that can affect the future health of the population or what has already occurred either through death or disease. Each state must alter their calculations in order to receive designation as a healthier state.

According to the report, proven, effective, and innovative actions can improve the health of people in every state whether the state is ranked first or 50th.

America’s Health Rankings Senior Report 2013 is available in its entirety at Americas Health Rankings.

Family caregivers of senior adults need to be aware of the availability of adequate healthcare and advocate for our communities to make necessary improvements to become healthier. We also have to utilize the services that are available in order to help our senior loved ones age successfully.

Seniors Catching E-Reader Wave and Reading E-Books (Printed Books Too)

Read a good e-book lately?

According to a new study by the Pew Research Center Internet & American Life Project, there has been a significant rise in the number of adults reading e-books and owning e-readers. You are probably shaking your head right now saying…”I knew that”!

In fact, the study indicates one-fifth of American adults (21%) report that they have read an e-book in the past year. Actually, it is not just books that we are all reading. According to Pew “43% of Americans age 16 and older say they have either read an e-book in the past year or have read other long-form content such as magazines, journals, and news articles in digital format on an e-book reader, tablet computer, regular computer, or cell phone.” There are four times more people of all ages reading e-books than two years ago.

Senior Loved Ones Part of the Trend?

I loved my e-reader from the moment I charged it up and loaded in the first book. I love to read and enjoyed the opportunity to have a good book at my fingertips whenever and wherever I wanted. My e-reader was one of the first made so it doesn’t have any special gadgets or cool apps on it. As I graduated to my tablet which does give me more bells and whistles but also holds all my favorite e-book titles, I have even more options when I am ready to read a good book.

I often pass my basic e-reader to my mother who is an avid reader and can read three books a week, constantly looking for the next new title. The e-reader is a perfect option for her as many titles she enjoys are obtained free or even on loan from the library. A two week due date is no problem for her.

Yes, I don’t often see that e-reader any more.

Reading Printed and E-Books

According to Pew researchers “88% of those who read e-books in the past 12 months also read printed books” and this is certainly true of both my mother and me. Sometimes it is helpful to have a print copy of a book, such as on an airplane when an electronic device is not allowed to be used and if someone shares a copy of a book they think I will like. More and more lately, people are sharing e-books with me more than print copies. The study found that the average reader of e-books has read 24 books in the past 12 months compared with an average of 15 books by a non-e-book consumer. Accessibility is likely the key to the increase in number of books read. Those reading the most books in the study were over 65 years.

Many seniors who enjoy reading and have their entire lives are finding that it is more difficult to see the printed word. Large print books are not very available and the titles are limited. Tablets and e-readers are great because you can set the size of the words to whatever works for you. I need a larger font myself and appreciate that I can alter the settings to my needs.

The research indicates that 29% of Americans age 18 and older own at least one specialized device for e-book reading – either a tablet or a dedicated e-book reader. I wonder how large that number would be if the age of the participants was higher, say 50? I think we would see that the percentage of the population that age is probably the fastest growing segment of e-reader converts but that is just my non-scientific impression from those people I observe and with whom I interact.

There are many reasons people enjoy reading including learning something new, discovering a new piece of information, escaping into a good story and using your imagination, being excited by the drama or suspense of a good book, staying abreast of world and local news, being mentally and spiritually challenged, or just relaxing.

Who doesn’t want that experience for their senior loved ones? There are many different devices that can meet the need of your particular senior and we hope you will out check it the wide range of options available. It makes a great gift for any occasion – father’s day, birthday, or even un-birthday!

We hope your senior enjoys the world that opens up to them in a good book!

Home Fire Extinguisher Use – Senior Care Corner Video Caregiver Tips

Fire! Something we don’t want to even think about in our homes but something that happens too often in seniors’ homes, especially those whose memory and/or physical capabilities are challenged.

We can, and should, take steps to reduce the risk of home fires but can’t count on eliminating them totally. The potential for lost lives motivates us to protect against what can happen in a fire. Yes, while a distant second, we also want to protect our belongings, memories and treasured keepsakes that a fire can destroy as well.

Home Fire Extinguishers

Smoke detectors are a must in protecting lives against home fires but are not enough.

Fire extinguishers can be a key to escaping the house safely in some fires. Many times a fire extinguisher – when standing at the ready and used properly – makes the difference between a small, manageable fire and a blaze that takes lives and property.

This inaugural Senior Care Corner Video Caregiver Tip, which you can play below, is a short lesson in using a fire extinguisher properly. It’s up to you to make sure senior loved ones have them in their homes (and you in your home as well).

We hope the fire extinguishers you buy never need to be used. If one does, though, proper use (after evacuating the home and calling 9-1-1) can be made easier by remembering to “PASS.”

  • Pull the pin to enable the fire extinguisher
  • Aim the extinguisher or its hose at the base of the fire
  • Squeeze the handle/trigger slowly and steadily
  • Sweep the base of the fire for best effect

You can also find this video, as well as future tips and other features, on the Senior Care Corner Channel on YouTube. Be sure to subscribe so you catch everything!


Senior Care Corner Radio Show Update

We’ve heard from a number of you that, while you find our Radio Show to be informative and useful, you would prefer a shorter format. A number of requests have come in as well for more Senior Care Corner video. We’ve been listening and are responding with the Video Caregiver Tips.

The Radio Show will be back from time to time when we have interviews of interest or topics to cover that we feel demand more than we can address with a blog post. Stay tuned!

We hope you enjoy the Video Caregiver Tips and hope you’ll leave us a comment to let us know what topics you would like to see covered in future tips.

Don’t Assume All is Well – Check Bills and Statements of Seniors (and Us)

Online payment systems and e-bills are great, aren’t they? Now we can quickly shift money from our own accounts to those who we owe money with just a few clicks — no need to write a check or lick a stamp much any more!

Even when we do get paper bills and pay with a check, it seems like the process of going through our bills and paying them takes less time than before and often a lot less than we remember our parents and grandparents taking.

Is it really a good thing, though, that we can rush through bill payment or pay them without even seeing our detailed charges?

Paying Charges We Don’t Realize

Law enforcement officials are reporting more and more cases of questionable and even fraudulent charges showing up on credit card bills, cellular service statements and other invoices. Even worse, there are too many cases of our own banks allowing or even facilitating withdrawals we don’t intend from our checking and savings accounts.

All too common for a number of years have been charges like these.

  • Monthly charges against our phone bills because someone on our account clicked on the wrong link or entered their cell number in the wrong place and a vendor took advantage by submitting a charge that our cell company seems all too willing to pass along to us.
  • Credit insurance premiums that find their way onto our credit card bills because we didn’t read the fine print when we took advantage of an offer we received or innocently clicked a box online. Sometimes we get those without seemingly doing anything at all.
  • Recurring electronic withdrawals from our bank accounts or charges on our credit cards because we let a newspaper, fitness center or other vendor submit charges directly for our convenience — and those charges conveniently continue after we quit the service, sometimes even after we specifically ask for them to be stopped.

There are more like those and even some new versions as criminals and near-criminal businesses take advantage of our lack of diligence in following through or even checking our account statements each month.

Typically those charges are small enough that they don’t jump out at us when we take a cursory glance at the bill and don’t change our balance enough to catch our attention.

Seniors Often Seen as Easy Targets

Crooks and purportedly legitimate businesses eager to separate us from our money by means that are questionable at best have long targeted seniors. While seniors were once seen as easy marks because they were more trusting, that is probably less true of most of our current older loved ones, who grew up in different times than did their own parents and grandparents.

Our senior loved ones today are still targeted, often in an attempt to find those more likely to unwittingly give up information they shouldn’t and to forget that they did so or that they agreed to buy that [whatever item] they never receive. Those who prey on older adults are also aware that many hesitate to report what happened out of fear they will be seen as incapable of managing their own money or living on their own.

Regardless of why they are targeted or how, the bank and other financial accounts of seniors are seeing far too many unwanted, questionable and even totally bogus charges — and we can’t assume the gatekeepers of those accounts (banks, credit card companies and others) are going to stop the outflow of money. Many even seem to have a financial incentive for helping it continue.

Stopping It is Up to Us

Yes, there are too many unwanted drains on the finances of our senior loved ones and ourselves. That’s even before we talk about the growing problem of identity theft and the tremendous impact that can have on the lives of all those touched by the crime.

What can we do, especially when it comes to senior loved ones living independently and wanting to be seen as able to run their own lives?

Prevention isn’t the whole answer because, as much as we would like, what happens to our sensitive financial information isn’t totally within our control. That doesn’t mean we ignore preventive and protective steps, just that we don’t assume it’s all we need to do.

All account statements — including checking, savings, credit cards, cell phones and more — should be reviewed in detail each month, if not more frequently. All questionable items should be investigated to determine if they are legitimate and acceptable or if actions need to be taken to remove them from the bill and keep them from showing up in the future.

Catching and Stopping Problem Charges

There are several steps we, on our own behalf and for the our senior loved ones if they agree, can take to catch questionable (and worse) items on bills and in accounts, some of which take advantage of the very technologies that have made it easy for us to bypass regular detailed reviews.

  • Ask cell phone providers to block all outside charges to accounts, which most will do upon request. If you are calling because you found something on the bill that shouldn’t be there, they will probably take the item off the current bill as well.
  • Set up automatic text or email notifications for bank and credit card accounts to keep track of charges and withdrawals. Most of us have that capability with our banks.
  • Check transaction details of all accounts carefully, whether on printed statements or online. A little time spent here is an investment that can save us time and money as well as give us peace of mind.
  • Consider freezing credit files at each of the reporting bureaus, especially if there is no charge for doing so in your state. Yes, there may be some inconvenience when you want to take out a new loan or credit card, but the bureaus have made it very easy to get a freeze lifted temporarily.

Electronic billing and payment may have made it easy for us to overlook unwanted items on our bills, but it’s time to turn technology back to help us hold onto what belongs to us and to our senior loved ones.

What is a Memory Care Center and Would Your Senior Benefit?

The silver tsunami is ashore!

Yes, our population is aging. We know, you’ve heard that before, but the importance can’t be overstated.

Now we need to be sure that we have safe places to care for the seniors who need care. While many are making plans and turning their dreams into reality to remain in their homes as they age, there are many won’t be unable to do so.

Health and safety are usually the reasons our seniors move from home to a care facility.

There are options for those that need care above what they can get in their own homes – including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, continuing care retirement centers and day care centers – which can provide different levels of care. Some seniors however, need specialized care in places that cater to the cognitive needs of seniors with dementia.

We as family caregivers try to meet the particular needs of our senior loved ones. Doing so means that the well-being and safety of our senior loved ones should be guiding our decisions about where they live. It is not your fault and no one will blame you for wanting what is best for your senior.

Memory Care Centers

Many of us are familiar with the nursing home care that has been around for some time. More nursing homes are becoming sites for rehabilitation or skilled nursing care following a condition such as surgery, debility or stroke recovery. Beds that were once taken by long term care residents are now split for use by those receiving therapy to return back home.

There is also a new growing need with the ever increasing numbers of seniors who have cognitive impairment known as dementia to create different situations tailored for them. It is estimated that 5.4 million seniors have Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Memory care centers are becoming more popular for family caregivers whose senior loved ones cannot safely remain at home and whose constant need for attention and supervision can no longer be met by the family members. Fear of wandering, fear of falling and even fear of burning the house down are all too real for many.

What Memory Care Units Provide

Nursing homes are generally not equipped to deal with the special needs of seniors with severe memory loss or dementia. When not stimulated or supervised properly, these seniors are at risk for premature death.

A good memory care program housed in an assisted living or long term care facility will include:

  1. Tailored activities for those with dementia who often have short attention spans and decreased sequencing abilities to complete a task once begun.
  2. Appropriate staffing patterns to keep seniors occupied and reduce resident on resident abuse when behavior is not controlled and redirected.
  3. Give 24 hour care, adequately supervising all residents – even those that aimlessly wander – to prevent elopement, fall and injury. Include increased security measures that keep seniors with memory impairment safe.
  4. Treat seniors without the use of chemical or physical restraints or over-medicating with antipsychotic drugs.
  5. Specially trained staff that is able to treat seniors with dignity and respect and redirect them back to safety when needed.
  6. Provide programs such as cognitive therapy, sensory stimulation, and in-house therapy when needed. Also, trained staff who can give art and music therapy to reduce aggression and agitation.
  7. Give daily care for activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, transferring, walking, and eating, as well as other medical care.

Memory care units can provide the specialized care that your senior needs when staying at home is no longer the right option for them. You should investigate any facility that you are considering to be sure it will provide the particular services you desire for your senior.

Each person with dementia is different and should be treated as an individual. No single course of treatment or care is right for every senior with memory loss. An individual plan tailored to your senior is the goal for all family members who want the best for their senior loved ones.

Celebrating Progress in Fighting Cancer / Keys to Survival and Prevention

The big C! The dreaded C word no one ever wanted to hear. It was a death sentence. No one said it out loud and certainly never in public. The one who must not be named!

Something had to be done about it.

Fast forward 100 years and the American Cancer Society is celebrating a century of fighting cancer with an ultimate goal of totally ending all cancer deaths.

Beginning in 1913 the American Cancer Society took an active role in cancer research searching for a breakthrough.

Yes, cancer is still a very serious diagnosis and scary for those who receive it, but it’s not nearly the same death sentence for most that it was not too many years ago.

Cancer Facts

  • It is estimated that about 1.5 million new cases of cancer are diagnosed in a year.
  • Approximately 562,000 Americans are expected to die of cancer – more than 1,500 people a day, according to a 2007 report.
  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death among all Americans, exceeded only by heart disease.
  • In the U.S., one out of every four deaths is attributed to cancer.
  • Over the course of a lifetime, one in three women and one in two men will develop cancer.
  • About 77 percent of all cancers are diagnosed in patients aged 55 or older.
  • Two of three people diagnosed with cancer today will survive at least five years.

A major achievement was announced to help lessen these dreadful statistics – there was a 20% drop in cancer death rates since the 1990s, which is equivalent to more than one million deaths.

The American Cancer Society aims to understand, prevent and treat all cancers. It is the largest voluntary health organization in the United States.

In combination with their research efforts, the Cancer Society has worked diligently to reduce the number of smokers by 50% with their recognition of the link between cancer and tobacco use.

The American Cancer Society can be reached at 1-800-227-2345 for help. It provides support for not only cancer patients but families to aid transportation and treatment goals.

One of the best statistics is that more than 11 million Americans are cancer survivors.

What We & Our Senior Loved Ones Can Do

Early detection and prevention are keys to surviving or even avoiding a cancer diagnosis.

  • Don’t skip that medical checkup or prevention tests that are recommended
  • Get cancer screenings: mammography, pap test, colonoscopy, skin checks, prostate exam
  • Use sunscreen
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Limit alcohol consumption

One other thing that can make a real difference in your risk of getting cancer — if you are a smoker, stop smoking today!