Senior Brain Health: Tips & Tools to Exercise the Brain

Seniors can have improved cognition and reduced risk for developing dementia if they have fit brains.  This has been proven through various neuroscience research studies. Keeping your brain sharp and helping your seniors keep their minds active will make aging successful.

“Brain fitness refers to a general state of healthy, optimized brain function, or a more specific brain-based ability to process certain, specific information, enable certain motor actions, or support certain cognitive abilities” states Alvaro Pascual-Leone, Direc­tor of the Berenson-Allen Cen­ter for Non-Invasive Brain Stim­u­la­tion at Har­vard Med­ical School.

Fun Activities That Keep Your Brain Sharp And Stimulate Your Brain’s Frontal Lobe “Thinking Brain”

  • Jigsaw puzzles of 500 or more pieces
  • Sudoku puzzles
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Word search puzzles
  • Playing board games and chess
  • Reading newspapers, books, magazine (e-readers add flexibility & convenience)
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Barnes & Noble Nook
  • Having a conversation
  • Watching a period movie such as Hamlet or MacBeth
  • Participating in physical exercise
  • Painting
  • Practicing math problems
  • Eating healthy foods and staying hydrated
  • Staying positive and managing stress
  • Bird watching
  • Learning something new- – a foreign language or musical instrument
  • Build something such as a model plane or birdhouse
  • Getting a good night’s sleep
  • Learning a new word every day and using it

Products that may help to improve brain fitness (and may even be fun!):

Select whichever tools you think will work best for your senior and give them a try.

The secret to brain health is REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT!   So keep at it every day to achieve improvement!

Seniors & Caregivers Not Focus of Tech Show — But In Mind

The Senior Care Corner staff recently spent a few days talking technology for seniors, their families and caregivers at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show and made some interesting finds.  There were several vendors specifically targeting seniors with the products, which we will discuss on Senior Home Technology over the coming weeks, but not as many as you would expect given how fast the senior market is growing.

Beyond that, there were many exhibitors with technologies that would be of interest to seniors and families and other caregivers of seniors, especially long distance caregivers.  Few were outwardly promoting their technologies to the senior and caregiver markets but all were excited to talk about the application of this application for their technologies and many mentioned having a number of installations for these customers.

Home automation systems were numerous at CES and we will be discussing several at Senior Home Technology soon.  We are particularly interested in these systems because they can serve multiple functions for seniors and their families and caregivers.

  • remotely performing convenience functions in the home, such as opening/closing blinds, adjusting the thermostat or scheduling prescription times
  • checking whether the front door is locked and locking it if needed for a memory-impaired senior (or unlocking it if keys were left inside)
  • providing notification of specified activities in the home, such as opening the refrigerator, preparing meals, or leaving the house after a certain hour of the night

Of course, many of these systems also provide more traditional functions, such as communications and home security.

The primary targets of these technologies are younger adults who are into gadgets and new technology but the manufacturers recognize the potential value to the senior market, even suggesting specific configurations they have seen installed in the past to meet seniors’ needs.  Most systems are expensive today and are not covered by insurance or medicare and thus are likely being targeted to those perceived as more likely purchasers.  That means until there is a defined senior market for more technology we have to go look for the opportunities.  We will be doing that for you, of course, and will follow these technology segments over time to report back here and on Senior Home Technology.  As with most tech, we expect prices to fall quickly and features to improve, especially as the vendors develop applications targeted to seniors. As seniors and their caregivers begin to request more devices, the sooner the manufacturers will fill the niche.

If you have specific technology needs or questions, we would love to investigate the options for you.  Leave a comment today!

Silvers Summit 2011

We at Senior Care Corner were excited to be a part of the Silvers Summit at the Consumer Electronics Show.  The Silvers Summit section is an arm of this international technology conference that focuses on the technology advances specific to our seniors.

We had the pleasure to learn about the latest information from experts in the field of technology.  They were all very passionate about their areas and the benefits of the latest technology.

As caregivers we are looking for gadgets that will help us help our seniors whether we live with them, nearby or far away.  We have made it clear that we want devices that will give us peace of mind that our seniors get the help they need with daily activities such as medication administration, socialization and safety; the ability to stay in their homes as long as possible; and  getting emergency assistance as quickly as possible.

The Silvers Summits Points of Interest

  • Any new or existing technology aimed at our boomers should decrease the burden of caregiving on their loved ones
  • New items should have a common goal: make our seniors safe and secure in their setting
  • New technology should be appropriately priced, especially since insurance and Medicare do not yet cover them
  • New advances will meet the needs more of the caregiver than the senior and will be marketed to you not the senior
  • All gadgets should be accessible to seniors with disabilities
  • All technology created should be integrated across the spectrum of devices so that they are usable  together and make it unnecessary to have multiple devices that don’t connect
  • New technology should be accessible to seniors and caregivers who are middle and low income

As we all become consumers of this new technology and gadgets it will be important for us to give our feedback about what we need and want for our seniors.  These manufacturers want to be sure their products fulfill our needs.  Therefore, let us not hesitate to share our opinions about how these products work in our environments, what their limitations are and how they are successful.  We look forward to hearing about your experiences with these devices so that we can all benefit.

We will be highlighting some of the products we feel could benefit us all as caregivers on future posts.  If you have interest in a specific product or type of need, let us know and we will track it down for you.

Technology Review: Sonamba Wellbeing Monitor for Seniors

We recently had an opportunity to see a demonstration of the Sonamba Wellbeing Monitor , which is designed for use by seniors living independently and their families/caregivers.

While we are holding out hope for whole-house technology solutions for the well-being of seniors choosing to age in place and their family members / caregivers, the Sonamba will meet some of needs of those seniors and their families today.

Both the seniors who want to stay at home and their family members who want them to be happy AND safe will benefit from the peace of mind Sonamba allows.

Key Features of Sonamba

  • Monitors motion and activity in the house, notifying caregivers or family members if everything is normal or if activity is out of the ordinary
  • Stores reminders, such as for medication and appointments, and sends out a notification if the scheduled activity is not completed and confirmed
  • Provides a panic button for use when assistance is needed
  • Includes a built-in text messaging function to provide a streamlined way for seniors to communicate with remote caregivers and family members

For caregivers, there is a web portal that allows designated caregivers and family members to adjust settings remotely.  There is even the now-obligatory iPhone app.

Sonamba carries an up front price of $460 and a monthly subscription starting at $39 so it is not for everyone.  Many will certainly find this to be a good price for the peace of mind that comes with a watchful “eye” that is less obtrusive than a video monitoring system or part time on-site caregiver.  Of course, it may still be more obtrusive than some seniors want.  Families may find it to be a reasonable trade off, though, for the freedom it provides to live at home while still providing some assurance to both the senior and other family members.  In a recent post we discussed the need for a family talk about the desires and concerns of keeping your senior at home.  A device such as Sonamba could be one way to address needs that are identified in that discussion.

Do you have experience with Sonamba or similar systems?  If so, we would love to hear from you.

Consumer Electronics Industry: Hot for Seniors

The fastest-growing consumer market in America is in the sights of the consumer electronics industry — and both the consumers and the industry will benefit.

With more seniors wanting to remain in their homes longer and needs changing with age and health, technology companies are stepping up with ideas to help make lives safer and more enjoyable while helping long distance caregivers assist their loved ones.

This ideal match is highlighted at the Silvers Summit, part of the International Consumer Electronics Show, the annual mega event in Las Vegas.

The Silvers Summit is billed as the place to be to “hear about companies and products that deliver quality-of-lifestyle to adults ages 43 and up and empower their elderly parents with greater independence. Experts weigh in on lifestyle, cool gadgets, trends, universal design, smart homes, caregiving, high-touch service technologies and more.”

With sessions on assistive technologies, home automation, intelligent systems to empower independence, and more, the Silvers Summit is the place to learn about the technologies of today and tomorrow for making life better.

Senior Care Corner will be reporting from the Silvers Summit to keep you up to date on the technologies available to help you improve the life of those seniors in your life.