5 Terrific Mobile Apps for Seniors

Many people think of technology as the territory of the young, and that’s too bad. Technology can benefit older adults in countless and sometimes surprising ways. For example, Speaking Exchange pairs up students learning English with English-speaking seniors, giving students conversational practice and seniors the opportunity to reach young people and help them learn skills they’ll need for success.

mobile apps for seniors can open up a whole new world
Tablet apps can open up a new world of communication, education, and entertainment for seniors.

On the everyday level, apps for seniors abound that can make life more convenient, more fun, and safer. Though some of them must be purchased, many are free, and those that do cost money are almost always reasonably priced. Seniors may not be as enamored of their phones as their children and grandchildren, but according to a Pew Research Internet Project, older adults are adopting tablets more enthusiastically than younger adults. A tablet could be perfect for the older adult that you love, particularly if you install a handful of useful tablet apps first. Here are 5 apps for seniors that can brighten their lives in many ways.

5 Mobile Apps for Seniors

1. Skype
A UK study of people ages 60 to 95 were provided with broadband and selected tablet apps, one of which was Skype, which allows video chat. Upon learning to use it, the seniors were enthusiastic. One outdoorsman who could no longer camp due to health issues was able to virtually join and interact with a group of campers around their campfire, for example. Thomas Morton, project leader, said, “What can be surprising is just how important social connections are to cognitive and physical health. People who are socially isolated or who experience loneliness are more vulnerable to disease and decline.”

2. YouTube
YouTube is packed with entertainment including music, television shows, and documentaries, new and old. It is also full of tutorials and how-to videos on everything from exercising to using technology. In fact, there are channels specifically by and for mature adults. Additionally, YouTube has countless playlists for enjoying music of every conceivable genre. And new content is constantly being uploaded to YouTube, so there’s never a problem finding something entertaining.

3. Waze

mobile apps for seniors can help you find where to park
Anyone who is out and about a lot can benefit from apps that assist with parking.

Waze is a map and navigation app that crowdsources traffic condition information, and it now automatically remembers and saves where you park when you use it to get to your destination. This is tremendously helpful at large shopping malls, parking garages, and events, guiding the user right back to their car, which is especially convenient for those carrying shopping bags. And when you use Waze for parking, you help the app learn where to find parking and how much time to allow to park at that particular destination.

4. Kindle
For the senior who loves to read, the Kindle app enables them to contain an entire library of books in their tablet. And for seniors with multiple devices, the Kindle app syncs furthest page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights across devices. Users can sample books before buying and read thousands of classics for free. It can also download eBooks carried by many local libraries. Plus, font size is adjustable, to reduce eye strain. Users can even subscribe to magazines and newspapers, or buy single issues.

5. Art Set
The regular edition of Art Set costs $1.99, and the Pro edition costs $6.99 for the iPad. Art Set allows users to draw and paint on a photo-realistic interface with tools that look like actual art tools, including virtual pens, pencils, pastels, and paints. It has pressure sensitivity so, for example, if you create an oil painting, you can get realistic texture effects. With pinch and zoom functionality, users can zoom in and add fine details, and blending tools offer nearly unlimited ways to mix and smudge color on the virtual canvas. The app is described by reviewers as intuitive and easy to learn.

Thinking of technology as only for young people is woefully short-sighted. Technology can be used by older adults to keep in touch with loved ones, remember complex medication schedules, increase social interaction, and enjoy cognitive stimuli and information that can greatly enrich quality of life. Apps for seniors can improve users’ sense of autonomy, provide entertainment and education, and allow far-away loved ones to interact face to face. The time you spend setting up your older loved one with a mobile device and apps can pay off beautifully in terms of your peace of mind and better quality of life for him or her.

Hospice Pet Therapy Provides Relief

Hospice Pet TherapyYou don’t need to look to far to find unsung hero’s in nursing homes, retirement communities and even personal residences today.  They’re called caregivers and they come in all shapes and sizes.  They give of their time in spades, and often receive little in return.  Caregiving is on the rise here in the USA as the many baby boomers begin to age.  An as we age, we begin to understand all of the resources out there that can ease the burden for people that are in the advanced stages of illness.

What Is Hospice?

Hospice offers medical care toward a different goal: maintaining or improving quality of life for someone whose illness, disease or condition is unlikely to be cured. Each patient’s individualized care plan is updated as needed to address the physical, emotional and spiritual pain that often accompanies terminal illness. Hospice care also offers practical support for the caregiver(s) during the illness and grief support after the death. Hospice is something more that is available to the patient and the entire family when curative measures have been exhausted and life prognosis is six months or less. – Hospice Foundation of America

Hospice Therapy DogsHospice Pet Therapy

One of the really interesting resources in the hospice arsenal today is the use of 4 legged therapy providers.  Pets (primarily dogs) are being to provide mental and physical relief to individuals in need.  Hospice pet therapy is proving to be a vital tool in the toolbox of caregivers today.  Dr. Gary Buckholz works with “Pawsitive Pals” Pet Therapy Program at San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine.  Buckholz says that their pet therapy program is so valuable… “It’s actually been shown to improve patient outcomes around certain procedures.”

For our patients it’s so important because it reduces feelings of anxiety which is a common symptom for our patients and it also reduces feelings of being isolated. – Dr. Gary Buckholz

If you ever wondered about the experience of pet therapy, I ran across a wonderful video that depicts the caring, kindness and love that therapy dogs can provide patients, even when they’re very, very ill.  You might want to grab a tissue, it’s incredibly touching!

Hospice Pet Therapy from “Pawsitive Pals”

Baseball Jerseys: Together Since 1952

Benjamin Hochman (Sports columnist, St. Louis Post-Dispatch) tweeted this adorable picture from Monday’s Cardinals vs. Giants baseball game.  USA Today’s Sports blog “For The Win” reports that the picture features Warren and Carol Reckmeyer outside Busch Stadium on Monday night.  Turns out they’ve been together since 1952 (duh) and were rooting for opposite teams Monday!

Even though the two attended the game together, they were rooting for different teams; Warren is a Cardinals fan, and Carol is a long-time supporter of the Giants. – Avery Stone, FTW blog, 8/18/15

Together Since 1952

For the record Warren’s Cardinals came out on top and added to their strong lead in MLB’s NL Central Division.

Related Baseball Couples

What Is Dementia?

What is Dementia

Teepa Snow on Dementia

Dementia is defined as “a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning”.  But how much do you really know about dementia? Where does Alzheimer’s Disease fit into the dementia discussion?  Should I be worried about mom if she’s exhibiting memory lapses?

These are all questions that come up when discussing dementia with friends, family and many times when we’re in professional circles.  This brain disease is hitting a huge swath of aging individuals these days.  Did you know that 1 in 3 seniors die with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia?  We wanted to share one of the most comprehensive talks you’ll ever hear on the topic of Dementia.  The talk is given by Teepa Snow, one of America’s leading educators on dementia.  Her seminar is entitled “What is dementia”?  Watch the video below and let us know what you learned!New test for Alzheimers Disease

What Is Dementia?

The Key To Living Longer

key to living longerIf you came here for eternal life’s “magic bullet”, you’ll soon be disappointed.  But if you came for real-life tips on living longer, we found a great list to share!  Web MD published a handy list entitled: “18 Secrets for a Longer Life“.  It contains practical advice on tipping the scales in your favor.  What can you do to prolong your life?  How can you stack the odds in your favor?  Here’s a list that spells it out!

What’s the key to living longer?

WebMD.com offers 18 tips for living longer, here are the top 10:

1.  Protect your DNA – Studies show diet and exercise can protect the ends of your chromosomes (called telomeres) by making them longer/healthier.

2.  Play to Win -An 80-year study found that people who are conscientious, and try to do the right things in life – live longer.

3.  Make Friends – Studies show that social adept people live longer (and typically more fulfilled) lives.

4.  Choose Friends Wisely – This one is interesting.  WebMD says, “Your friends’ habits rub off on you, so look for buddies with healthy lifestyles. Your chances of becoming obese go up if you have a friend who adds extra pounds.”

5.  Quit Smoking – Duh!

6.  Embrace the Siesta – I’m all for this one…take a nap for healthy aging

A study that involved 24,000 people suggests those who have a regular snooze are 37% less likely to die from heart disease than those who rarely steal a few winks. Researchers think naps might help your heart by keeping stress hormones down. – WebMD

7.  Follow a Mediterranean Diet – The Mediterranean diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, and fish.  WebMD says that “an analysis of 50 studies involving more than half a million people confirms the benefits”.

8.  Eat Like an Okinawan – Now I realize I just told you to follow a mediterranean diet… But here’s another idea that’s quite healthy;healthy eating for living longer

The people of Okinawa, Japan, once lived longer than any other group on Earth. The region’s traditional diet, which is high in green and yellow vegetables, and low in calories gets the credit. – WebMD

9.  Get Hitched – Yup it’s true, getting married can add some time to your life-clock.  Many believe it’s because of the social nurturing and economic assistance marriage can render.

10.  Lose Weight – This one is pretty obvious too, but we live in a nation with some of the highest obesity rates in the world!

For 8 more tips on living longer jump on over to WebMD, and view the slideshow.  Do you have any habits that you believe contribute to longer/healthier lives? Let us know in the comments below!

Prescription Drug Prices On The Rise

Lowering your prescription drug pricesIf you noticed that your prescription drug prices have been going up, you’re not alone. Consumer Reports just surveyed over 1,000 prescription drug consumers and their survey yielded some interesting results. One third of Americans in their survey said they paid an average of $39 above the usual cost for their prescription, and one in 10 said they paid $100 or more out-of-pocket.

Rising drug prices, especially for generic medications, have become such a problem that two members of Congress, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), asked the Office of the Inspector General earlier this year to investigate – Consumer Reports, 8/13/15

Consumer Reports says that drugs to treat asthma, high blood pressure, and irregular heart rhythm medications top the list of medications that have been steadily rising over the last few years.  If you’ve paid your pharmacy bill despite experiencing sticker shock, join the club.  81% of those surveyed stayed-and-payed, while just 19% walked away.  Those that walked either declined to fill their prescription, OR they did some additional due diligence on drug pricing.

Most alarming, some said that higher drug prices affected their ability to pay for other medical care. People who faced unexpected high costs were more than twice as likely to avoid seeing their doctor or forego a medical procedure than those who didn’t. – Consumer Reports Survey on Prescription Drug Costs 8/13/15

Consumer Reports also published a savings-checklist for lowering your prescription drug prices.  Here’s a few great money-saving ideas:

Consumer reports lowering prescription drug pricesConsumer Reports: Lower Prescription Drug Prices

  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review all of the drugs you take and determine if you can stop taking any of them.
  • Make sure your prescribed drug is covered by your insurance.
  • Consider other medications if the price is too high.
  • Use your insurer’s preferred pharmacy.
  • Consider your insurance company’s mail order service.
  • Try getting your prescription from Costco.
  • Shop around.
  • Ask the pharmacist, “is this the lowest possible price you can offer?”

Video: Lowering Your Drug Bills

Alzheimer’s Daughter | Meet Author Jean Lee

Alzheimer's daughter book coverAccording to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States with one in nine people over 65 being diagnosed with the disease.  While the statistic is staggering, consider the 15 million Americans who are the unpaid caregivers (and heroes in my eyes)  of Alzheimer’s sufferers.  Husbands, wives, sons and daughters are taking on the role of “caregiver” and facing the challenges of caring for a loved one in the most intimate of ways.  The following is a narrative by author Jean Lee who wrote Alzheimer’s Daughter, a story of her journey caring for BOTH of her parents who were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.


“Both of my parents were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s on the same day. I lived one mile from them. My only sibling, my sister, lived 1,000 miles away. Three years prior to the diagnosis, we grew concerned as their mental clarity declined. My sister suggested I keep a journal of oddities. Whenever we spoke by phone, I’d open the journal and review.

My journal became the core of a book honoring my parents’ love story and documenting their simultaneous decline.

Alzheimer’s Daughter is the story of our parents’ love and fierce protection of one another, and the hand-in-hand loss of their minds. Yet, this is my story too––the story of a mid-fiftyish woman balancing marriage, children, and career, while struggling to be the caretaker for parents who are failing so fast neither can tend to the other.

Infused with the romance of my parents’ WWII love letters, Alzheimer’s Daughter is written in three parts.

The first introduces readers to my parents as healthy, vibrant lovers, raising my sister and me during the ‘God and Country’ era of the post-WWII 1950’s through the rebellious Vietnam protests of the 1970’s.

author of alzheimer's daughter Jean Lee parents

The second details my journal, as our parents’ off-kilter episodes increase ––some as subtle as becoming lost in a favorite shopping mall, escalating to Ibby throwing things in anger.

In the last portion, I search for family treasures among the trash as I dismantle and sell the family home in which my parents have become hoarders.

Five years and three moves later, my sister and I are forced to place our parents in a locked Alzheimer’s unit.

Despite the raw ravages of the disease, I conclude by remembering the optimism oozing from my parents’ core as they found joy until life’s end. I marvel at the devotion they had, holding hands and repeating, “We’ve been so lucky, we’re so happy,” even when they couldn’t remember their own names. I hear their voices echo back “I love you,” to me after they’d lost all other ability to speak.

I seek peace by envisioning Ed and Ibby together, restored and reunited; while I hope telling their story provides help to you, as you grapple with your own caretaking decisions.

Alzheimer’s Daughter was written with heart and soul.

It took four years to write and publish Alzheimer’s Daughter. During that time I struggled with guilt, not knowing if I had the right to reveal such things about my parents. Since publication, the book is gaining good reviews. Positive reactions such as, There are many books written about Alzheimer’s. This one opens the door and let’s us in,” by Penpusher, have brought me peace and have reconnected me with my parents’ smiling souls.”

Author of Alzheimer's Daughter Jean Lee

Jean Lee lives with her husband in small-town Ohio, twenty minutes from anything. Although she worked full time while her parents were ill, she is now retired after twenty-two years of teaching elementary school. Her children are married with children of their own. Five grandchildren are her greatest blessings.
Her latest writing project, Lexi’s Triplets, features her triplet grandchildren, written through the voice of Lexi Lee, the family dog. Connect with Jean by email, her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.  Her book can be purchased on Amazon.

A Father Teaches Son Valuable Lesson

father teaches sonYou’re allowed to cry while watching this video… There are many moments that provide teaching opportunities for parents, and this is certainly one of those moments.  In this beautiful short video directed by Constantin Pilavios, a father teaches his son a most valuable lesson in humility and patience.

Sometimes it’s easy to get impatient with elderly friends or family members, especially when memory is fading, or dementia like symptoms begin to set in.  Pilavios does a marvelous job reminding us that patience is indeed a virtue… His story is both heart warming and inspirational.

Father Teaches Son Valuable Lesson

If you were moved by this heartwarming story, you’ll love A Letter From a Mother to her Daughter.  But just a word of advice beforehand… better get a fresh kleenex. :)

Fall Prevention: Advice from an expert and Infographic

We review medical alert systems that boast automatic fall detection capabilities notifying caregivers, family, or emergency services in the case of a fall.  In a perfect world however, there would be no falls to detect!  Unfortunately, 1/3 of  Americans 65+ fall each year.  We interviewed Art Rasmussen, the owner of Great Bones, a company dedicated to bone health, about fall prevention and the steps seniors (and the rest of us for that matter) can take to keep our bones healthy and strong.

What is your mission at Great Bones?

“Inspiring a Lifetime of Strength, Balance, and Bone Density”  in my own words our mission is to help seniors live a life without fear.  Our program is designed to improve strength for each of our clients.  As strength improves so does balance and flexibility.  As the client builds strength and balance they also gain confidence.  Confidence relates to everything they do in their daily lives.  From opening a jar, to climbing stairs, to doing the activities that they thought they would no longer be able to do.

preventing falls and fall prevention infographicIn regards to fall prevention, what are some specific steps seniors can take in the home setting (wherever that may be) to prevent falls.

1. Exercise to improve balance and strength.

2.  Have your doctor review your medicines. Medicines can make you dizzy or sleepy and cause you to fall.

3.  See Your Eye Doctor.  Be sure your vision is the best it can be.

4.  Make your home safe.  Keep walkways clear of items that can trip you.  Remove small rugs.  Keep things within reach so you don’t have to climb to reach them.  Improve lighting in your home.

What steps can seniors take to prevent injuries if a fall happens?

Having a regular strength training program will help with balance to prevent falls.  Having strong muscles will help seniors catch themselves.  That ability is probably the help with the prevention of injuries.  More importantly should there be an injury from a fall those that have improved or maintained their strength usually have the quickest recoveries.

If you had to choose two things seniors (and every adult for that matter!) should do everyday to keep bones healthy and strong, what would it be?

1. Strength train with resistance exercises.

2.  A healthy diet.

To learn more about Great Bones, visit their website at www.great-bones.com.

The infographic from our friends at easyclimber.com provides additional information about fall prevention.

3 New Studies Show Impact Of Exercise On Alzheimer’s Disease

Exercise and Alzheimer's DiseaseOn Thursday the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) reported that 3 new (randomized controlled) trials demonstrated the positive impact aerobic exercise plays in patients with varying degrees of dementia. The new well-controlled trials provide further hope to millions that we can impact the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

From the AAIC press release: “There is a convincing body of evidence that regular physical activity can reduce the risk of cognitive decline, and possibly reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. In healthy older people, studies suggest physical exercise can improve cognition. However, until now, whether physical exercise could improve symptoms in people with Alzheimer’s, or beneficially impact the physical changes in the brain caused by the disease, was unknown.”

“Based on the results we heard reported today at AAIC 2015, exercise or regular physical activity might play a role in both protecting your brain from Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and also living better with the disease if you have it,” – Maria Carrillo, PhD, Alzheimer’s Association Chief Science Officer

Impact of Exercise on Alzheimer’s Disease

The 3 studies involved in the research were:

  • The Danish ADEX Study, the first large, controlled trial of moderate to high intensity exercise in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s in Denmark. Steen Hasselbalch, MD, and colleagues from the Danish Dementia Research Centre (DDRC), Copenhagen, Denmark
  • A Tau Protein Study, a 6-month randomized controlled trial of moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise in 65 sedentary adults 55-89 years old with MCI (mild cognitive impairment) to test whether aerobic exercise might also lower tau levels in the brain.  Researchers Laura Baker, PhD and colleagues from Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston Salem NC, USA
  • An Aerobic Exercise in VCI Study, a six-month study of 71 adults 56-96 years old with confirmed cases of mild VCI (vascular cognitive impairment).  Teresa Liu-Ambrose, Canada Research Chair, PhD, PT, University of British Columbia and researcher at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health

Each of the 3 studies showed a positive correlation between exercise and the impact it can have on certain dementias.  The Alzheimer’s Association further reports that “There is a growing body of evidence that certain lifestyle choices, such as staying mentally active, eating a heart-healthy diet and staying socially engaged, can slow cognitive decline as people age.” It’s never to late to improve your health!

Click here to see the Alzheimer’s Associations new infographic titled 10 Ways to Love your Brain!