Recipe for a Happy Family Caregiver Holiday

As family caregivers, our love and devotion to our senior loved ones shows through in our actions every day.

As we complete each of our caregiving activities day in and day out, we show our commitment to improving our loved ones’ quality of life.

Yes, our caring shows.

We may be driving to the doctor, doing the laundry, cooking a meal, or giving a bath to our senior — maybe just doing it all from soup to nuts!

We may be the glue that helps hold our loved ones’ lives together.

It is during the holidays that we can take a step back and bask in the glow of the knowledge that what we do is making a difference!

We are special!

During the holidays we get the opportunity to reconnect with other family members, share the load a little and hopefully take a much needed break.

Special Recipe for Your Holiday Together

seniors grandchildren holiday

As we head into the thick of this year’s holiday season, we would like to share with you a little reminder of the importance of our families and making memories every step of the way, while remembering the bygone times.

We can use the season to bring some joy into our senior loved ones’ lives through memories and reminiscing activities.

As we get caught up in planning everything we need to do — all the shopping, cooking, visiting, caregiving and the rest that is on the agenda — we found one more recipe for you.

This is not something to cook but a reminder to cook up the holiday that we want and for which we often wish.

Recipe for a Happy Holiday

(author unknown)

4 cups of good memories
2 Tablespoons of JOY
1 cup of relaxation
3 Teaspoons of anticipation
A dash of faith
2 ½ cups of “jolly” beans
A splash of eggnog
1 Barrel of good cheer
An assortment of good friends & loving family

Preparation:
  1. seniors family christmasTake good memories and joy, mix thoroughly
  2. Add relaxation
  3. Blend anticipation and faith
  4. Fold in “jolly” beans and eggnog
  5. Sprinkle abundantly with good cheer
  6. Garnish with friends and family
  7. Bake with love

Serving size: Makes enough to last the whole year!

Senior Care Corner® wishes you all the best memories, love and serenity this holiday season!

Robotic Assistants for Dementia Family Caregivers — Here Now!

There have been many technological innovations that help family caregivers as they care for older adults.

Do we always love — or even use — them when we get them? Nope!

When it comes to older adults, the population is quickly becoming larger than the number of those available to care for them. Many family caregivers can’t stop working, for financial reasons, to become full-time caregivers, have other immediate family needs raising their children, or live at a great distance away all, any of which may prevent them from being full-time caregivers.

What about the number of seniors who have no family members, never had children, or have outlived their family members? What can they do to get their aging needs met?

This is a prime reason that technology to fill the gaps of caregiving is here to stay and will only continue to increase in breath and scope of devices and innovations.

Non-traditional solutions need to be embraced by caregivers and older adults, as well as made useable and practical by tech companies.

Many seniors have been slow to adopt new technology and many caregivers have stalled getting technology in place because they feel overwhelmed and undereducated about what is best for their senior loved one. Both of those must be overcome for caregivers and seniors to get the benefits of technology.

Smart home technology, voice activated assistants, and remote medical monitoring are all at the forefront in technology becoming part of daily life for our seniors.

Are we giving due consideration to robotics and the promise of great things to help manage chronic disease, reduce loneliness and improve the well-being of people living with dementia?

Dementia Decline Impacted by Robot Interaction

A new project has been focused on the effects that robots can have on the decline associated with dementia’s progress.

Advanced Brain Monitoring Inc (ABM) has introduced a robot companion that will interact with a person with dementia to determine if it can mitigate cognitive decline. ABM has received a grant from the National Institute on Aging at the NIH to carry out this study using socially assistive robot interventions. You can read more about it in this article.

Caregivers have been searching for strategies to meet the needs of their older loved ones and keep them mentally stimulated and engaged.

ABM used a socially assistive robot named Mabu from Catalia Health to interact with people with dementia in their own homes. The ABM team states, “We foresee the potential for the robot intervention to be used alone or in combination with other treatments for dementia.”

Mabu will ask questions, get answers, and give reminders as desired. It can be voice activated or directed using a touchscreen tablet. Daily conversations of only a few minutes at a time are individualized to the person and their needs. Although not mobile, the head and eyes move to interact with the person and follows their face to engage.

Change in Chronic Disease Needs Technology Solutions

Seniors today typically suffer from chronic diseases instead of an acute medical diagnosis that ends in their quick demise, as it did in the last century. The struggle then becomes managing chronic disease (and often more than one at a time) for optimal aging and independence that will allow aging in place.

Unfortunately, with the growth in the older population combined with the decline in number of people who can be caregivers to this population of elders, family caregivers will need to depend more on innovative technology to face health and aging challenges.

Success of technology to improve the life of our older adults will require engagement with this technology. That will mean, in a sense, having a relationship with our tech devices and staying engaged over time without abandoning it.

Clearly, if our seniors stop using a device, there is no benefit.

What if there was a technology that was engaging, effective, and acted as a companion that would become meaningful enough to achieve results of engagement that leads to true disease management and medication administration?

Technology such as this could keep a senior connected over a long period of time instead of being discarded. One that becomes almost a buddy.

Cost Versus Benefit of Technology Interventions

Many seniors who have begun needing additional care, but want to remain at home, need a helping hand.

Particularly for those older adults who live alone, a companion robot that interacts on a daily (even more than once a day) basis and is there to confirm they are following their treatment plan is very important to not only their medical status and quality of life, but also for the senior’s mental health to reduce loneliness.

Loneliness, which affects as many as one third of our seniors, has been shown to be a predictor of poor health.

The cost of most of this new technology rivals that of once a week in-home care. While the cost of care will likely rise over time due to supply and demand impacts, the cost of technology typically declines.

UBTECH Lynx (at Amazon)

Cost reductions in avoiding a medical crisis or hospitalization, home safety interventions, proper medication management, reduction in depression and loneliness, and the time given back to family caregivers far outweigh over the long-term other costs of facility or even routine home care.

Digital companions who interact with seniors and the healthcare team can help avoid health crises that lead to hospitalizations. It can also reduce the number of in-home visits needed when chronic diseases are monitored more closely and routinely using digital companions. Non-adherence to the treatment plan is a real barrier to health for many seniors.

Robots on the market and coming to market soon are not intended to take the place of in-home caregivers but to supplement the care they provide based on each senior’s situation.

It is important to note that many of these social robotic companions do not store health data. Any information relayed to a healthcare provider is encrypted, HIPPA compliant and secure.

Technology to Defeat Dementia

Robotics are being used with people with dementia in order to get their attention, engage them with companionship and stimulate them.

There are several of these robots either on the market in specific sectors or available to the consumer including MABU, ElliQ, CareCoach GeriJoy, Buddy, Paro the seal, and Hasbro’s Joy for All pets.

Robotic pets cost in the $100 range and are easily accessible. One of these would be a great gift for many seniors!

The sad truth is the level of frustration and anger family caregivers have when caring for elders in the advanced stages of dementia who ask repetitive questions and need constant redirection at tasks. It is human nature to react when someone asks 15 times in a row what time it is.

Robot companions, however, don’t react with judgment or frustration and are able to maintain a constant tone of voice. This interaction may help avoid conflict which could escalate behaviors in the person with dementia. A robotic companion can relieve a daily caregiver when seniors need constant conversation.

Robotics Doesn’t Replace but Enhance Caregiving

Many caregivers will balk at the thought of machines taking over the caregiving role and replacing the human touch.

This has never been the intention.

Everyone we have seen and heard in the field of robotic research and those implementing digital companions with seniors agree that a human caregiver is essential. Robots are to be used to enhance the experience of aging and augment the capabilities of busy caregivers not replace it.

You are the most important caregiver for your senior loved one, but you need help.

Socially assistive companion robots could help you improve the quality of life for your senior while helping you be able to continue to be a strong caregiver!

 

Improving Health Through Participation in Clinical Trials

How many people do you know who have participated in a clinical trial?

A clinical trial or research study involves human volunteers (also called participants) and is intended to add to medical knowledge. There are two main types of clinical studies: clinical trials and observational studies.

Family caregivers may not realize that clinical trials/studies not only help their own older adults learn more about their disease process but can help others when science is advanced toward improved treatments and even cures.

People who may qualify to enter clinical trials don’t have to be at the end of their life, grasping for a miracle.

Clinical trial research can help learn more about diseases affecting older loved ones, including dementia, Parkinson’s, pain, migraines, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease, to name only a few studies currently ongoing.

With so many opportunities available, what keeps many of us from joining the fight to help those suffering from chronic diseases or at risk in the future?

Barriers To Clinical Trial Participation

Speaking to caregivers and those who could benefit from research studies, it becomes clear there is not only misinformation about research studies but also fear of participating that keeps many from becoming a part of a study.

  • Awareness of what to expect, time involvement in both duration of the study and travel, potential risks and benefits, how your data is protected, and lack of learning about how you have impacted change are often cited as reasons that keep people from joining.
  • There may also be a lingering belief that trials are only for those with end-stage medical diagnosis, such as terminal cancer. This is no longer the case, as science yearns to discover the cause of disease, how to prevent illness, how to best treat specific diagnosis, how family members of someone with a chronic disease such as dementia may progress themselves, best courses of action to adjust pharmaceutical interventions, or test non-pharmacological means such as lifestyle changes, formulating vaccines for prevention, or cures to stop debilitating diseases in their tracks.
  • Technology and global scientific collaboration have done much to advance scientific knowledge of disease and treatment. But are they effectively communicating with potential participants?
  • Frustration with clinical trials for those who have once participated because they never heard from researchers again once their piece of the process was completed may keep others away from joining too. Perhaps someone you know never heard if the medication or treatment worked or will be used to treat others. Most people want to know the outcome, but researchers often don’t share the data or results with participants once the trial is closed.
  • Oftentimes, reading research trial information about eligibility requirements and actual involvement in the trial (what it hopes to accomplish and how it will be achieved) can be confusing and difficult for most people to understand, which keeps them from moving forward to join.

These factors can become obstacles that people, especially family caregivers, don’t have time or energy to try to overcome, especially because long-term benefit of doing so is hard to assess.

Fortunately, there are ways to learn more about clinical trials and their benefits that don’t require us to be scientists to understand.

Plain-Language Summaries Improve Understanding and Transparency

Medical jargon and scientific terms can be difficult to the point of being unreadable for many people, limiting their enrollment in research studies or even impacting their effective participation once enrolled.

There is a movement to make information sharing about clinical research trials accessible to every person and it is called plain-language summaries (PLS). These summaries are written so that the pages of scientific terminology in a research study are condensed into a short form that is easier to understand.

PLS provide the lay public with information about clinical research in language that is easy to understand and are required by law in the European Union (EU), although not currently in the United States.

In the EU, plain-language summaries must be provided for one year after the close of the trial. They are required to be provided in all languages of the countries in the union, as are the materials provided at the start of the study, with inclusion of an English version for all.

In the US, it is up to trial sponsors to provide plain-language summaries, and many are now making this information available to increase participation so that the study can yield meaningful results. But not all researchers do so, which means helpful (and hopeful) clinical trials are still not accessible by some due to the inability to be aware of and comfortable about the particular study.

Some truly beneficial studies may even be hard to find, as the use of jargon instead of everyday speech impedes their discovery.

Plain-Language Summaries Encourage Participation

Many people are disappointed when they are not fully informed or able to understand the results of the trial they helped or to be provided any information once the study closes. However, PLS can offer understandable results after the close of a study, which most participants appreciate.

According to a 2017 Perception and Insight Study by The Center for Information & Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP), ninety-one percent of study participants indicated that wanting to learn the results of the study is very important. Unfortunately, only about half of participants are told the results once they are done.

A PLS will contain information for potential participants or their family caregivers in digestible chunks, in an easy-to-understand format. Everyday language, instead of medical or scientific terminology, is used. There are also often images to help explain or illustrate information for better understanding.

If more trials had PLS, it is very likely that more caregivers and seniors would feel comfortable and in control of their decision about entering a trial, as well as sharing their experiences with others to encourage them to do the same.

Having information that reduces fear and increases awareness will hopefully increase the participation rate, yielding benefits that can be achieved when clinical trials get the amount and diversity of participants that are needed to successfully run a research study.

Questions to Answer Before Joining

If you or someone you know is interested in joining a clinical trial, here are some questions from CureClick (adapted from resources provided by ClinicalTrials.gov, a service of the National Institutes of Health) you may find helpful to aid in your understanding of the program and the importance of your participation.

  • What is being studied?
  • Why do researchers believe the intervention being tested might be effective?
  • Why might it not be effective? Has it been tested before?
  • What are the possible interventions that I might receive during the trial?
  • How will it be determined which interventions I receive (for example, by random selection)?
  • Who will know which intervention I receive during the trial? Will I know? Will members of the
    research team know?
  • How do the possible risks, side effects, and benefits of this trial compare with those of my current treatment?
  • What will I have to do?
  • What tests and procedures are involved?
  • How often will I have to visit the hospital or clinic?
  • Will hospitalization be required?
  • How long will the study last?
  • Who will pay for my participation?
  • Will I be reimbursed for other expenses?
  • What type of long‐term follow‐up care is part of this trial?
  • If I benefit from the intervention, will I be allowed to continue receiving it after the trial ends?
  • Will results of the study be provided to me?
  • Who will oversee my medical care while I am in the trial?

There are many diseases that family caregivers and seniors would like to see an end to in their lifetimes.

Through participation in clinical trials that advance science to find effective prevention, treatments, and cures, we all benefit.

When Assisted Living is Right for Your Senior – Choosing the Right Assisted Living Facility

Independent living in their own home is the preference stated by most seniors.

Is your senior loved one ready for more care than they can receive in their home? Despite our attempts to keep them at home as long as possible, at some point family caregivers may need to help find a new housing arrangement to meet the needs of their senior loved ones.

Assisted living is a solution that gives care in an apartment setting. The Assisted Living Federation of America defines an assisted living facility (ALF) as “a housing and health-care option that combines independence and personal care in a residential setting.”

Seniors remain independent but receive more support such as meals, medication administration, bathing, dressing, transportation, activities, and socialization.

There are approximately three quarters of a million older adults living in assisted living facilities, 40% of whom received three or more activities of daily of living assistance from the facility.

It is the fastest growing option for long-term care for independent seniors who still need some assistance or supervision.

Is assisted living on the list of options your senior would consider for their future?

Should it be?

Would an assisted living facility be the right next home for your senior?

If this becomes an option for your senior, what should you look for in a facility, what will meet your senior’s needs, how can they afford an ALF, and how can your senior and family select the best facility?

Assisted Living Facility Features

An assisted living facility provides care for seniors who need more help with dressing, grooming, taking medications, preparing meals, doing housework, and other activities but does not usually offer skilled nursing services or medical care that a long term care facility (nursing home) would provide.

When activities of daily living become more than a person can safely complete in their home, the next step is often a move to assisted living.

Here are some of the features you can expect to find in an assisted living facility:

  • Provide a long term living situation to meet the individual needs of each senior
  • Depending on what is needed, these facilities can provide assistance with activities of daily living such as medication dispensing, bathing, grooming, household chores; congregate meals; activities to relieve boredom; socialization with peers; spiritual events; transportation; physical activities and social engagement; housekeeping and laundry
  • Most provide health monitoring
  • Involve families in the care and progress of their senior loved ones
  • Improve the independence of seniors as they transition from the home setting with increased assistance to improve their function
  • Provide transportation to nearby shopping, health professionals and community entertainment
  • Some provide memory care services for those requiring more safe spaces, one-on-one care and assistance
  • Provide home-like setting with comfort and style maintaining privacy combined with a variety of amenities
  • 24 hour assistance provided, which may include security around the clock
  • Cost will vary depending on the services your senior requires; the more they need-the more it will cost

Assisted Living Facility Selection Considerations

There are many factors to consider when looking for the right assisted facility for your senior’s new home.

  1. Is it located close to family and friends so that they can visit regularly?
  2. What are the available desired amenities and features, such as beauty shop, meals that meet your senior’s needs, caring staff, comfortable apartments, pleasing atmosphere, welcoming staff, cleanliness, free of odors, well maintained grounds and common areas, and how emergencies are handled.
  3. Does the facility desire to maintain dignity and respect as well as the highest level of quality of life for your senior? Is your senior involved with the plan of care?
  4. Will your senior’s privacy be maintained?
  5. Do they offer choices to your senior, including meals, activities, and desired amenities to maintain their independence? Read the activity calendar and see if the social events are of interest. Are there appropriate spiritual events for your loved one or you?
  6. Is the facility and its location safe?
  7. Do you understand and agree with the fees charged and facility policies? Ask what is included in the basic rate and what services will be extra (and how much).
  8. Are you fully aware of what might constitute unplanned discharge from the facility? What functional or behavioral changes will result in a discharge?
  9. Can seniors bring their own furniture and mementos?
  10. Are pets allowed? If so, what are the limitations? What costs are associated with pets?
  11. Does the dining program adjust for medical needs? Are between-meal snacks offered? Can they eat when hungry or are there set meal times or choices of meal offerings?
  12. What do you foresee your senior’s needs will be in the future and can this facility meet those needs?
  13. Can your senior stay there if he/she becomes cognitively impaired? (Alzheimer’s disease or dementia)
  14. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been made, as well as simply searching the web using the facility’s name.

You can’t assume each facility offers the services your senior needs or will need in the future.

Planning for the Cost of Assisted Living

The cost of assisted living is usually paid by the elder or their family caregivers, but some long term care insurance policies will pay a portion of the cost. Sometimes financial assistance is available from the facility or, if your senior qualifies, Medicaid can help, though the facilities that accept Medicaid are limited.

You can expect to pay less for an assisted living facility than a nursing home, but it is still likely to be expensive.

You typically get what you pay for, so a cheaper fee may mean fewer services or even care below your standards.

In 2018, Genworth Financial completed a survey of the cost of assisted living and found that the fees have spiked up 6.7%. The cost has risen largely due to a national staffing shortage (which is likely only to become worse).

The average cost is now $4,000/month for a one-bedroom unit which is $48,000 per year. The costs vary slightly across the country, with a daily rate averaging $132.

Federal and state government programs generally do not cover the cost of assisted living. Therefore, sound financial planning is key. At the current time, only half of adults have a financial plan in place.

Caregivers may end up paying out of their own pockets (often out of their own retirement savings) to pay for the care of older adults who did not plan for the cost of long term support services (LTSS).

When seniors wait longer to enter an assisted living facility, they often have greater needs, which translate into a higher cost for that care. Therefore, be aware of the additional costs for care your senior may have when comparing different facilities.

Seniors who have dementia may be living longer with care needs. This should also be considered when financial planning is done as well as deciding on placement options.

Seniors Like the Change – Really!

We speak with many seniors who are very happy and enjoying themselves in assisted living facilities.

They are relieved of the burden of maintaining their home, cooking their own meals, or feeling lonely.

There are fun activities and new people to spend time with every day.

Although it is true that many of our seniors wish to age in place, there are also many who are struggling living alone and need more assistance to stay safely independent.

Whether you call it an assisted living facility, continuing care retirement facility, retirement home, residential care facility, congregate living facility, personal care home, or community residence, you may find that your senior will be happy to have made a change.

Careful investigation of facilities near you, visiting each center and speaking with staff and residents, and including your senior in the decision will make it a smoother transition for the entire family.

Assisted living facilities can offer you and your loved ones a safe, caring, friendly environment full of fun activities.

These facilities can bridge the gap between independent and dependent living situations when staying in the home is no longer the best option.

We wish you and your senior well as you plan home transitions!

 

 




Medicaid Recipients Fall Short in Getting Needed Nutrition

Medicaid is the largest provider of health insurance for low-income people — children, adults and seniors, as well as those with disabilities.

It is a vital service for 1 in 5 Americans or 66 million people. Of these, 4.6 million are low-income seniors (also enrolled in Medicare, known as dually covered).

New research shows that these individuals have significant food insecurity challenges to overcome.

Because older adults can already be at a disadvantage due to limiting factors of chronic disease, fixed incomes, lack of transportation, or declining functional abilities, that those who qualify for assistance through Medicaid face additional challenges securing healthy food that impacts their well-being is unfortunate and upsetting.

Vulnerable Population of Seniors

Researchers from the Root Cause Coalition found that Medicaid beneficiaries struggle to purchase food in general and even more so when selecting healthier options.

They surveyed over 1,000 Medicaid recipients aging from 18-80 years and found:

28% of Medicaid beneficiaries purchase less food than they need due to financial problems.

32% purchase less healthy food due to lack of money

27% report they worry their food will run out before they get money to buy more

43% of Medicaid members say they often skip at least one meal a day. However, participants report that they want to improve their overall health and nutritional habits, as well as reduce their weight through diet.

38% of Medicaid members say their health is excellent, 28% have high blood pressure, and 34% say they feel stress when shopping for food.

67% say this stress is directly related to the price of food.

Insufficient Nutrition Education is Key

Education appears to be a key for improvement in this group, as it is for most of the general population. While recipients report discussing their health and eating habits with their doctor, only 32% say they can name a food or nutrient that will help their most pressing health concern.

Doctors can provide some guidance, but the researchers found that only 59% of recipients got this information. When they did receive nutritional advice from their healthcare provider, 79% report making changes to their eating habits.

Because nutrition-related health conditions are more prevalent in this population, much more education is needed. We recommend this health information comes from registered dietitians who are experts in counseling people to make health changes based on science and tailoring the information to the needs and culture of the person in their care.

Experts find that 1 in 2 seniors are at risk for or are already malnourished. Seniors who are food insecure have more emergency department visits, require more hospitalizations, and spend longer in the hospital when ill.

The unfortunate truth is that seniors with low incomes who qualify for Medicaid are making tough choices between purchasing food and basic necessities. They are more likely to experience health problems that require medical services with little income to pay for these services, including doctor visits and prescriptions.

Nutrition Education to Help Seniors

This isn’t meant to make caregivers afraid for the health of their senior loved ones but instead to recognize that their older adult may need more help and guidance to remain healthy.

Determining if a senior will meet eligibility requirements to become a beneficiary of Medicaid is a good first step. Each state is different when it comes to providing Medicaid. It is best to check with an elder law attorney or other expert to discuss their options and eligibility status.

If your senior loved one is financially unable to provide for their medical and living expenses, it might help them fill the gap.

After you take this step, it is important to help keep them healthy through improving their food choices. Almost anyone can make choices to allow them to eat better on a limited income or food budget.

If you need more information, we encourage you to seek out a registered dietitian to help them choose healthier foods to manage chronic disease and avoid functional decline from poor nutrition.

Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

  1. Plan meals ahead and use a grocery list to reduce impulse purchases. Keep a list all week so you buy what you need.
  2. Shop with the sales. Help your senior plan a week’s menus based on the items for sale in their grocery store each week. Buying food when it is discounted will help them get more for their money. Look for frozen vegetables on sale and stock up to eat when fresh is too expensive.
  3. Buy fresh produce in season. Avoiding watermelon during the winter and oranges in the summer when these items are not at their most abundant and therefore affordable can avoid driving up up the cost of food. Pick fruit and vegetables in season, experimenting with varieties they may never have tried before like acorn squash in the winter or fresh spinach in the summer.
  4. Use coupons for the items regularly purchaseed and pick generic items that are usually cheaper per ounce than name brands. Carefully compare prices before using the coupon, sometimes the store brand is cheaper even when you have a coupon. Learn how to read the unit pricing on the shelf, sometimes bigger or even on sale isn’t the cheapest per ounce.
  5. Prepare your own foods. Buying foods already made, pre-cut and processed increases the price per portion of meals. Cut your own fruit, portion your own fresh snacks like apple wedges instead of grabbing salty snacks and cook your own meals.
  6. Substitute lower cost proteins instead of eliminating protein from the diet. Use eggs, peanut butter, Greek yogurt, dry beans, cottage cheese, and nuts in the place of expensive cuts of beef or pork.
  7. Don’t overbuy and eat what you have on hand before it expires. Food waste will harm your budget causing you to throw away money. Use a first in – first out strategy to store foods so that you use up food before it spoils.
  8. Include whole grains in meal planning because rice and pasta are budget friendly, as is oatmeal.
  9. Skip snack foods, soda, and candy which add cost and calories but few nutrients!

Healthy Advice for Seniors and Caregivers

It is important for successful aging in place for seniors to do the following to maintain their health:

  • Don’t skip meals
  • Choose healthy, nutrient rich foods
  • Exercise daily especially strength and balance activities to help prevent falls and maintain functional abilities
  • Eat balanced meals that include protein to maintain strong muscles
  • Drink enough water each day for proper hydration
  • Get regular dental visits for tooth care (poor dental quality negatively affects eating)

Family caregivers can help their older adults achieve optimal health when we pay attention to what is in the cupboard and on their plate!

Covering the Global Stage for Innovation — CES 2019 Preview

Technology innovation for independent-living older adults and their family caregivers has come a long way!

Like the rest of tech, it also has a long way to go before the full potential is realized (if there is ANY limit to the possibilities).

Senior Care Corner® has been covering CES®, the largest and most influential technology event, since our first visit in 2011. At that time, there were a relative few companies, mostly small startups, working on devices for older adults as a founding mission.

We had to use our imaginations to envision the potential benefits for older adults and their family caregivers from innovations designed and marketed for younger people.

Since then, the talk at CES has gone from trying to convince most tech companies seniors will actually use technology to companies big and small touting the benefits of their offerings to seniors.

Of course, in the interim it was ‘discovered’ that the senior market is huge and growing fast. That and older adults demonstrated, with the adoption of smartphones by many, they are willing to consider beneficial innovations.

CES Conference Sessions of Interest

Each year since 2011 there have been more and more conference sessions with information of interest to older adults and their family caregivers. Even though the conference schedule is still a work in progress, we are finding many with great information.

These are just a sampling of the most promising sessions from the schedule so far.

  • Service Robots in Daily Life — The discussion of robotics has gone from industrial robots to those that will interact with us in our daily lives. Sessions will discuss robots that will do household chores, others that will cook for us, and robotic caregivers.
  • Connections Summit — This summit looks at strategies to meet the challenges of the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart homes. It will have sessions that discuss voice control of home technologies, in-home tech support, and independent living. We are particularly looking forward to that last session, which will look at smart home solutions that deliver life- and cost-saving health solutions at home.
  • Digital Health Summit — The importance of healthcare to older adults – all of us, really – means the Digital Health Summit is always one of the most important places to be at CES. Highlights this year include eradicating chronic illness, Alzheimer’s Disease, and the technologies that will power the future of healthcare.

Add to these conference tracks on wearable technology, the future of transportation, artificial intelligence, and more, our biggest technology need during CES would be one with which we could clone ourselves to cover everything that is important to you.

CES 2019 Exhibitors

As valuable as we find the conference sessions at CES, the heart and soul of the event is the exhibit floor. Floors, actually, as once again CES exhibits will cover floors in several venues, with enough walking required to get in weeks worth of steps for those who are counting.

In addition to technologies that were only being imagined when we started covering CES, there are also several exhibitor categories that weren’t on the map then.

These are some of the categories that will have tech of greatest interest to seniors and family caregivers, along with the number of exhibitors signed up for each one (many appear in the numbers for multiple categories).

  • Accessibility (69)
  • Digital Health (279)
  • Robotics (189)
  • Smart Home (655)
  • Cyber Security and Privacy (69)
  • Wearables (380)

This sampling should give you a hint that we have a lot of walking ahead of us, once again, during CES. All well worth it, of course, as we always seem to find a few exhibits that are pleasant surprises and look forward to reporting back to you on what we find.

Much More to Come

This is but the first of many articles we will write as part of our coverage of CES 2019. As the event nears, we will provide updates on the program and our plans.

One of the most important aspects of CES each year is the people we meet there, some of whom provide great background information for our articles and others who we interview for our podcasts.

Given how busy everyone is at CES, especially conference speakers, some of our best CES interviews don’t take place there but afterward, when everyone is back home.

Please let us know if there is anything or any company specifically you would like to see us cover and we will work to get it on our schedule.

Stay tuned for more of our coverage of CES 2019.

 

 




Insights on Service Dogs for Seniors on The Senior Care Corner® Podcast

Dogs are beloved pets to millions of families throughout the US, each day earning their “best friend” title.

Growing numbers of those dogs are being given “jobs” in addition to their traditional role.

In many seniors’ homes, specially-trained dogs are being asked to perform a variety of tasks including such things as fetching needed items from the bedroom or kitchen, providing alerts, and helping ensure seniors are able to find their way home.

Those are, of course, in addition to being trusted companions.

These “service dogs” are being increasingly sought by family caregivers who want to address specific concerns with aging in place senior loved ones.

Senior Care Corner® has been receiving a lot of inquiries about service dogs from seniors and family caregivers so decided to reach out for some expert insights to share with you.

Click on the ▷ below to play the podcast (note: you can continue reading while you listen if you want)

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Expert Insights from the American Kennel Club

Based on our research, we knew the American Kennel Club (AKC) had the expertise needed to educate us on service dogs and arranged a conversation with Mary Burch, PhD., who is Director of the AKC’s Family Dog Division.

Mary Burch, PhD. with Wyn

In our conversation with Mary, which we recorded for this podcast, she answered the questions we have received from many of you about service dogs, including these.

  • What are the different types of service dogs?
  • What benefits service dogs provide to older adults, especially those living independently?
  • Can existing pets be trained as service dogs?
  • Are some breeds more suited to service?
  • How can seniors and family caregivers choose the right dog?
  • What questions should be answered when determining how (and if) to meet a senior’s needs with a service dog?
  • Are there certification standards for service dogs or trainers?

… and more.

Mary was very generous with her time and did a great job of answering everything we threw at her, for which we are appreciative!

Still, we realize we could only scratch the surface in a conversation like this. In addition, the answer to many questions are specific to the situation of each senior and family. Mary provided us the links below for additional research and guidance.

Mary’s Suggested Links for More Information

 

We hope you enjoy this episode of the Senior Care Corner Podcast and find it as informative as we did.

This episode was designed based on your requests. Please let us know of other topics you would like us to cover or questions for which an expert answer would be helpful.

 

 




Free Rides for Seniors Can Lead to Improved Quality of Life

We all know the importance of getting where you want to go when you want (and need) to go to our sense of independence and freedom.

Imagine if you are an older adult trying to get to the doctor or pharmacy to get essential prescription medications but you can’t get there.

For our senior loved ones, it isn’t that same as a joy ride in the country to view the fall leaves or going to the ice cream shop for an ice-cold treat. It’s your life and health.

Accessible transportation – or the lack thereof – is important to seniors’ ability to successfully age in place.

Depending on others for a ride when they need it, including family caregivers or senior transportation that can be undependable, isn’t a perfect solution for many seniors. In some instances, paying for transportation to get basic needs met is out of reach for many older adults.

What is the solution?

For many seniors, ridesharing companies that have spread like wildfire across the nation can help them do what needs to be done and more.

Impact of Ridesharing

It is estimated that in 2015, 54% of seniors had difficulty accessing transportation, even in cities such as New York with wide ranging public transportation systems. In fact, 40% of rural people (37 million) living in 1,200 counties across the nation have no public transportation.

It is amazing to learn that as many as 20% of seniors (nearly 7 million people) over 65 don’t drive at all.

One solution to this problem is exploring how ridesharing can fill the void providing seniors with dependable transportation.

A study by AARP found that 20% of seniors over 75 use ridesharing and 40% of those over 85 do as well.

In collaboration with United Healthcare, the AARP Foundation gave a $1 million grant to Keck Medicine of USC to test the impact of providing free Lyft rides on the health of elderly USC patients within the greater Los Angeles area.

Researchers showed how unlimited free Lyft rides (ridesharing) can improve seniors’ quality of life by 90%. The research was part of a pilot program between Lyft and the University of Southern California Center for Body Computing, which studied and connected senior citizens with this form of transportation.

Seniors in the study were tracked using a wearable device to determine their behavior. They used a smartphone app or were able to call for a ride. All the seniors had transportation barriers and lived alone.

Benefits to Seniors Demonstrated

Given unlimited free access for three months, the older adults averaged taking a ride daily. They showed an increase of 35% in out of the home activity over the time studied. Not only did they go to medical appointments but began socializing, visiting friends and engaging in the community. 74% reported an increase in social visits.

An added bonus, 97% of the respondents reported getting more comfortable with the technology, actually ‘embracing’ it, and were using smartphones with apps at the end of the study.

The cost of the rides averaged about $400 per month, which is more than many seniors could afford, according to researchers. Lyft promises more partnerships to meet the needs of elders and to determine how best to meet these needs economically.

It’s true that millions of older adults miss their scheduled doctor appointments due to lack of transportation according to these researchers. But, more importantly, the lack of independence and mobility to move around their communities for any reason inhibits a senior’s quality of life.

Socialization is a key determinant of successful aging in place. Staying home and not interacting with others because of inaccessible transportation can negatively impact seniors’ lives.

Obstacles and Solutions for Seniors to Hail a Rideshare

Many seniors struggle to connect with ridesharing companies because they are unable, untrained, or unwilling to use an app to call for a ride.

Some seniors, especially rural ones, may not have broadband service or a smartphone yet.

Others may not be comfortable using an app or remember how to do it. Some seniors still shy away from this technology in case they should ‘break’ it. Others are fearful of security breaches with an app like this.

It is up to family caregivers to help facilitate this process and help senior loved ones get connected with ridesharing.

Older adults don’t have to use a smartphone to call a ride. Both the major ridesharing companies can be called using a computer instead of a smartphone app. Family caregivers can set up a computer to be used to get a ride, show the senior how to do it, and establish an account for them.

Lyft Concierge has made it possible to get a ride using the telephone, with no need for a smartphone or a computer. They have partnered with  community-based companies to provide rides. For many seniors, picking up the phone and making a call to get a ride may give them more confidence than using an app or the computer. These rides can be on demand or scheduled for appointments.

Caregivers near or far can also call to set up rides for their senior loved ones using this program. Payment is made via credit card so no money is required.

Ridesharing Changes Lives

Ridesharing companies are working together with senior living communities to make ridesharing more accessible for seniors. If your older adult is in a facility, you may want to discuss connecting your senior with this service.

Helping seniors remain as independent as possible and engaged in the community by focusing efforts on obtaining adequate transportation services unquestionably will improve the quality of their aging in place experience.

This will ultimately benefit family caregivers too!

 




 

10 Cancer Prevention Tips Based on Trusted Research

We used to call it the “Big C.” The word cancer put fear into our hearts!

Cancer is a group of diseases, not one particular kind. It is characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells in the body. This unchecked growth can lead to death. The treatment is directed at removing or stopping the spread of these malignant cells.

We know a lot more about cancer prevention and see cure as expected in most cases, though not nearly all.

The cause of cancer is not always known but the risk factors are more clear. Many are modifiable through lifestyle changes.

As of January 2016, there were 15.5 million people with a history of cancer and still alive (survivors). Cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the US after heart disease.

The evidence that we should put into practice the latest recommendations has been called by experts and researchers to be “compelling.” That is a pretty serious word in the scientific community and not used lightly.

The American Cancer Society estimates that at least 42% of newly diagnosed cancers are preventable with lifestyle behavior change.

Some of these recommendations we have heard for many years over and over again. But, when will we take heed and begin to actually make the necessary changes for our overall health and in particular, to prevent cancer?

Hopefully now!

These are admittedly simple steps that we can all begin taking toward health.

Family caregivers can encourage and intervene to help their senior loved ones adopt some of these guidelines for a healthier lifestyle. You are never too old for health!

Latest Cancer Research

Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: A Global Perspective report produced by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) is described as the most comprehensive scientific report to date.

Here are their key findings:

  1. Being overweight or obese is a cause of 12 cancers. There appears to be an overwhelming link between body fat and cancer.
  2. Drinking alcohol is a cause of six cancers, even one glass of alcohol a day can increase your risk of getting some cancers.
  3. Physical activity can help protect you from 3 cancers and also helps you manage your weight. Activity can give powerful protection against cancer development.
  4. Healthy eating can reduce cancer risk as well as aiding weight management.
  5. Lifestyle factors can also impact survival rates after a cancer diagnosis including the effect of the cancer treatment.

Caregivers’ Tips for Cancer Prevention

Here are the latest guidelines for prevention backed by scientific evidence that we can all follow – caregivers and seniors.

AICR/WCRF Cancer Prevention Recommendations:

  1. Maintain a healthy weight – stay within the healthy range and preferably at the lower end of the Body Mass Index (BMI) chart range and avoid weight gain in adult life. Body fat triggers hormones that can produce cancer growth.
  2. Become and stay physically active – walk more, sit less every day. Exercise of 150 minutes of moderate activity a week can help keep hormone levels in check. Sitting for extended periods can increase cancer risk so get up every hour for a walk.
  3. Eat a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans – plant foods rich in fiber and nutrients reduce the risk of cancer. Plant foods also contain phytochemicals which protect cells from damage.
  4. Limit fast foods and other processed foods which are high in fat, starches or sugars – also helps manage weight.
  5. Limit red and processed meat – eat only moderate amounts of red meat, pork and lamb and limit processed meat. More than 12-18 ounces of red meat (considered a moderate amount) shows convincing evidence of increasing colorectal cancer risk.
  6. Limit sugar sweetened drinks – choose water or unsweetened drinks. Helps with weight management.
  7. Limit alcohol consumption – despite potential protective effect against heart disease, evidence is clear that alcohol in any form is linked to cancer.
  8. Do not use supplements for cancer prevention – a healthy diet and other lifestyle factors are more beneficial. Some high dose supplements can increase risk for cancer.
  9. Breastfeed your baby if you can – evidence that breastfeeding can protect mother against breast cancer.
  10. After a cancer diagnosis and treatment: follow these recommendations.

Fighting to Prevent Cancer

Prevention is the first step to fight cancer. These lifestyle changes are imperative for our health.

Avoiding smoking and time in the sun unprotected are also ways you can reduce your risk of cancer.

It is also vital to participate in early screening tests to detect cancer and get treatment for a cure.

We can’t prevent all cancers, but given the devastating effect they can have, both on those afflicted and their loved ones, we should do all we can for prevention and early screening to get treatment to be survivors.