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16 Helpful Apps for Seniors

August 6th, 2014

Written By: Guest Contributor – Dec• 10•13 (Re-printed with permission from a article published in “Social Media Scoop for Seniors.”

Not too early to start your holiday shopping? Actually, not really! Gifts should be practical and thoughtful because you want the person receiving the gift to know you spent time thinking about what to get them. If you are having a difficult time thinking of the perfect gift, then look no further. Here are 16 helpful apps (just for seniors), which will make their lives a whole lot easier.

16 Helpful Apps for Seniors:

These apps are broken down into a few different categories, ranging from health to entertainment. Some of the apps are for iPhones and some are for iPads, so note which ones you’re buying beforehand.
5 Health Apps
These apps might be the most important ones around to download, since they can possibly help save a life.
HeartWise Blood Pressure Tracker
iPhone — $0.99
iPad — $2.99
Easily record your blood pressure, your resting heart rate and your weight, and you’ll be able to track it on a daily basis and over time.

Instant Heart Rate (iPhone) – FREE
This app uses your iPhone’s camera to detect your pulse from your fingertip, which is similar to what pulse oximeters already use.
Pillboxie (iPad and iPhone) – $0.99
Remembering you have to take your medication is important – but just as important is remembering, which medications you have to take at which times. You can even customize your meds with different combinations of med types and colors.

iPhone – Free
iPad — Free
Use WebMD’s Symptom Checker to help what your potential issues might be, and this app can also work as a handy guide for medical emergencies.

My Medical for iPad
iPhone – $3.99
iPad — $3.99
Keep all of your family’s medical information and medical history in one spot, for quick access. Track blood tests and X-rays, and have the ability to back the information up to your computer, too.
4 Helping Hands Apps
Here’s a handful of apps that should make life a little easier.
EyeReader (iPhone) – $1.99
Hold your iPhone over a book or some paperwork, and your phone turns into a magnifying glass, with a light to help brighten the text.

BigNames (iPhone) – $1.99
Browse through the names and numbers in your contact list much easier, with large, high-contrast text that helps those with some issues with small text.
Silver Surf (iPad) – FREE
Blows up the navigation buttons and makes it easier for older users with less dexterity in their fingers than most people. It also has an Interactive Text Zoom slider that enlarges text up to 200 percent.
Park’n’Forget (iPhone) – $0.99

Never forget where you parked your car again! Input what floor you’re on and what aisle or spot, and you’ll never roam the parking garage again. It also has a convenient “Parking Meter” timer, that alerts you when you’re parking meter is about to expire.

4 Free Entertainment Apps
The iPhone and iPad are practical, no doubt, but there also should be some play time involved, too!
Clevermind (iPad) – Free
This is a great app to help people dealing with cognitive impairments that come with problems associated with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. From quizzes and games, to big buttons, voice command controls and a calendar interface.
Lumosity (iPhone) – Free
Keep your mind sharp with some of the best mind games around, designed by neuroscientists working to enhance memory, attention and other skills.

Yesterday USA (iPhone and iPad) – Free
Great Internet radio app that broadcasts “old-time radio shows” all day, every day. Harken back to yesteryear with the help of today’s technology.
Pandora (iPad and iPhone) – Free
By typing in any artist, band or song, users will be able to listen to thousands of songs in that same genre. Then they can upvote or downvote each song, which helps Pandora fine-tune which songs you prefer to hear for each channel.
3 Free News & Social Apps
These apps will help keep everyone updated on things they need to know, like what’s happening in the world out there, and what’s happening with your friends and family.
iPhone – Free
iPad — Free
This is the greatest invention since the invention of social media! Connect this app with all of your social media accounts, and connect it with some of the best news and content sites that interest you. Then watch it turn everything into a digital magazine, in which you “flip” the pages and see everything set up like a magazine, including Facebook posts and tweets.

The Weather Channel (iPhone) — Free
Get the weather report for whichever city you need right now, or every hour, or see what it’s going to look like over the weekend, or over the next 10 days.
iPhone – Free
iPad — Free
What’s better than just talking with your friends and family over the phone? How about talking to them – and seeing them — on a video conference!?! You will never be surprised by how much your grandchildren have changed again!

Hopefully, you found several apps that you found both interesting and entertaining. But most of all, we hope you found some helpful apps for seniors that make things easier in 2014.

“The Cottages at Cedar Run” – Assisted Living for Memory Care

May 23rd, 2014

Do you know that there is an inherent problem for nearly all assisted living Memory Care facilities throughout the nation? The problem? The design of the building!

The very typical assisted living Memory Care facility, while attractive, even charming to the undiscerning eye, has inherent design flaws that actually disrupts the lives of the residents these facilities were meant to serve.

Design flaws include things like:
1) Hallways intersecting with other hallways creating ‘way finding’ issues {read: ‘confusion’ for residents and others}.
2) Large carport entry ways with glass sliding doors so as staff and visitors come and go, residents are subliminally reminded they cannot leave.
3) Small or enclosed courtyards or those with prominent fences, again subliminally reminding residents their freedom is severely restricted by virtually being penned in.
4) Lighting which is designed to please the eye of staff and family, but not nearly bright enough for the eye of the senior resident. Also, lighting levels tend to vary greatly throughout the day and night. This actually may promote falls and disorientation.
5) Individual resident rooms are not discernibly different in appearance, again inviting ‘confusion’ for residents. It is normal for resident rooms to be identified with simple numbers and possibly with small ‘memory boxes’ featuring ‘miniaturized’ representation of the occupant’s career or interests. A much better resident room ‘identifier’ alternative would be a ‘memorable’ room entrance with a place for a ‘full life sized’ example of the resident’s career or interests.
6) While resident rooms are a wonderful place for comfort and relaxation, building designs tend to promote a sedentary lifestyle by providing libraries and lounges as key focal points, but do little to promote subliminal cueing for physical and mental activity / stimulation! A better design is to have an obvious focus for residents exiting their rooms on activities and activity areas promoting physical, and cognitive stimulation.

So is there an example of a ‘template’ of a far better assisted living Memory Care facility that includes all these design features? YES! Cedar Community in West Bend, Wisconsin is about to open a great example. Its’ called “The Cottages at Cedar Run” and you can ‘tour’ it in a 3D video display! Simply go to www.cedarcommunity.org and ‘click’ on [The Cottages].

Time to Update the Nursing Home Survey Process

April 28th, 2014

Prior to the federal government’s 1987 Omnibus Reconciliation Act (a.k.a. OBRA 87) the state and federal government’s approach to surveying nursing homes was dramatically different. With OBRA 87 rules, codes, regulations, and standards by which nursing homes were annually surveyed became very, very strict. Surveyors were schooled to establish and strongly enforce any and all regulations. Room for rule interpretation became an entrée into a new picayune approach, going far beyond basic regulation into instances of harassment at worst, and browbeating at best.
Some would suggest justification in this approach to offset and ‘re-set’ an industry in which a reputation permeated where elder neglect and even abuse was occurring with more and more regularity.
Mission accomplished! The government’s CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) oversight has implemented OBRA 87 to the nth degree! In a newer twist, CMS has devised a flawed, yet interesting, system for the general public to ‘rate’ nursing homes. It’s called the 5-Star rating. Nursing homes are rated a 1-star (lowest) to a 5-star (highest). Accuracy in this case, not so important!

All seems good doesn’t it! Very tenacious surveyors visit nursing home’s using criteria devised in the 1900’s (1987 to be exact). Tough surveyors willing to bust the morale of every nursing home employee, assuming their participation in fraud, abuse, neglect, and general ineptitude, all in the sake of bettering the nursing home! Uhm…really?

It is now 2014, well beyond the 1900’s, yet the very same OBRA 87 Nursing Home Survey criteria continues to be at the top of every surveyor’s clipboard! It’s the rule!

We in the nursing home industry, were kind of hoping the surveyors (and for that matter, our national and state legislators) had noticed a few changes going on in the past 27 years. Nursing homes of today can only exist by meeting the needs, wants, and demands of a new breed of residents, their families, physicians, and career healthcare professionals who expect sophisticated quality care delivery using the latest technologies; creating homelike environments; serving delicious meals; providing a robust array of activities; and encouraging positive social interaction!

The typical 1987 nursing home resident, once admitted, would likely live out their lives in the nursing home. Today, that is really becoming an exceptional story. Most nursing home residents are not nursing home residents! It is common for patients to stay less than 30 days in the nursing home setting. REHABILITATION is the focus with the goal of getting residents to leave the nursing home are relocate back to their private homes, condo’s or apartments. Therapy services as post-acute care programs means people today are quickly admitted to hospitals, quickly discharged to nursing homes (Rehab. Care / Transitional Care); then quickly discharged to go back home!

It’s obvious that it is time for CMS to update their criteria for surveying the nursing home! Resident/Family satisfaction; effectiveness of therapy; innovation in problem-solving; staff satisfaction; utilization of available technology; communication between acute, post-acute; therapy; and home health providers; and readmission rates need to be the new survey criteria. Along with those changes, we ask for a new surveyor attitude of cooperation, collegiality; education, and guidance which would actually assist in making improvements would go much further than penalties and finger-pointing!