Helpful apps for seniors

8 tech solutions to maintain independence and give caregivers peace of mind

By Jeff Salter for Next Avenue

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Every day for the last 24 years, I’ve worked with the elderly and, by extension, with their families. As the founder of Caring Senior Service, a non-medical in-home care provider, my goal is to ensure that people can age with dignity in their own homes and to reassure families that their loved ones are safe and secure. Increasingly, technology helps on both fronts.


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The importance of listening to the person with dementia

We need to hear well before the voice is silenced by the disease

By Mike Good for Next Avenue

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Credit: Thinkstock

(Editor’s Note: This is the eighth in a series examining and interpreting a commonly used “bill of rights” for dementia patients.) 

People with Alzheimer’s or other dementia are an invaluable part of our society. Millions of them are brilliant, wise and actively advocating for their rights and needs.

As my friend with Alzheimer’s, David Kramer said, “It’s not something that necessarily makes us idiots.” No it doesn’t, but unfortunately the vast majority of people don’t understand the disease, and therefore, don’t know how to listen to the person with dementia.

Just like anyone else with unique challenges and special needs, people with dementia need to be able to communicate their needs, wants and fears without being judged.


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It happens to the best of us: I’m not cool anymore

Despair turns to hope during a humdrum trip to the grocery store

By Peter Gerstenzang for Next Avenue

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Credit: Thinkstock

A few mornings ago, I saw a reflection of myself and had to summon every bit of strength to keep from shrieking. What was staring back at me, from a darkened winter window, was sad, morally repugnant and just plain creepy.

As I caught a glimpse of myself on the NordicTrack, wearing a velour sweatsuit and horn-rimmed glasses so I could watch CNBC, I had the most unsettling epiphany: I’m not cool anymore.

I looked beyond the window at my snow-covered suburban lawn and wondered what had happened to my rebellious nature. Where was the guy who once wore mirror shades and motorcycle boots, whose long hair was held in place by a bandana? How did he morph into the guy who was exercising before dawn? Who chugged prune juice? And now dressed like senile mobster, Vincent “The Chin” Gigante? I did not know. And I was bummed about it.


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Art and friendship make powerful tools to fight ageism

College students and older adults become ‘pals’ in this creative arts program

By Linda Bernstein for Next Avenue

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Credit: paletteprogram.org Caption: PALETTE participants bridge the generations

“Whom would I meet? What would I say? Would I seem dorky?” These were Rena Berlin’s concerns before she met her Partner in Art Learning, the new “pal” she’d been matched with through a program that pairs a college student with an older adult to create art.

“For the first time in my life I really felt like a senior,” says the 68-year-old educator from Richmond, Va., with a laugh. “They were transporting a small group of us from the Weinstein Jewish Community Center in a van to the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. A van. That mean’s you’re getting old. I was also nervous.”

It turns out she had nothing to worry about. “After my PAL and I got started, it was amazing,” she says.


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Art is commentary for Rolla painter

rpm18-paintbrush-c-a-3For many years, as a surveyor in the U.S. Army, Will Freeze drew maps. Today, he prefers to paint pictures of the natural world rather than mark its boundaries.

Will’s painting, “Paint Brush C.A.,” will be featured in the 2017 Art is Ageless Calendar. This was the first year he entered the competition at Rolla Presbyterian Manor. After taking first in his category here, Will’s piece was entered at the masterpiece level of the competition, among winners from 16 other Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America communities.

Will painted the scene from a photograph of dawn breaking over the Paint Brush Prairie Conservation Area – in particular, the prairie flower for which the area is named. “At early sunrise there is very little color other than the sun coming up. That was reason I selected it, because I was intrigued by the sunrise,” Will said. “If you were to look closely in the foreground of the picture you can see the silhouettes of the tall grass.”

It was Will’s wife, Marjorie, who encouraged him to enter the Art is Ageless competition. She became a Presbyterian Manor resident in February, and she died in May. Typically he preferred to paint pictures for friends and give them away, or at least trade. He received a handmade bamboo fly-fishing rod as a thank-you from one friend.

“I was in the military for 40 years, and I met people from all over,” he said. “I’ve got pictures scattered from Vermont to Arizona.”

Even in school, Will was drawn to art – first to bolster his GPA so he could stay eligible for football, but then he discovered he had a gift for painting. His talent at both earned him scholarship offers in art and football. He chose the sports offer but studied commercial art and illustration in college. An injury ended his career before he got his degree, though, and he left school.

The Korean War was on, and Will was drafted. To his surprise, he spent 20 years on active duty, eventually becoming a surveyor. Some of his work in the 1960s helped pave the way for today’s GPS satellite systems, Will said.

Will likes for his artwork to have a purpose, too, such as commenting on destruction to the environment. He’s now working on a painting of flowers from his yard with a bee and butterfly. He calls it “The Pollinators,” calling attention to the crisis of disappearing bee colonies. “I like to make things that have a message,” Will said.