Must Have List For Cruise

List for CruiseNorwegian Cruise Lines posed a great question on their Facebook Page today. They asked; “What’s on your must-have cruise packing list?” Some of the answers are very funny, and some are very practical! Since many of you may be planning cruises this year or looking for other travel deals, we thought we’d post our favorites from that Norwegian Cruise Lines must-have list for cruise. These items (not necessarily in this order) are important to remember when you take to the high seas!  Are you planning a cruise this year?

  • Passport
  • Sun Glasses
  • Reading Glasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Flip Flops (sandals)
  • Extension Cord/Power Strip (adapter and/or 3 plug outlet)
  • Swim Suit
    • A “Cover Up”
  • Cash
  • Book Bag
  • Baseball Hat (sun hat)
  • Cell Phone
  • iPad or Kindle
    • iPad or Kindle Charger
  • Cross Body Purse (or backpack)
  • 2 Dressy Outfits (formal dinners or excursions)
    • Dressy Shoes
  • Running or Athletic Shoes
  • Work Out Gear
  • Binoculars
  • Hair Clip (for the curtains if you want to take a nap during the day)
  • Anti-Nasea Meds (dramamine?)
  • A Good Book (books)
  • A Camera (could be your phone)
  • Your Prescription Medicine(s)
  • Coffee Creamer (a lot of folks mentioned this – there’s no creamer aboard?)

So that’s the list so far.  What did we forget?  Help our readers make their first cruise a good one by sharing your cruise experiences with the group.  What’s on your must-have-list-for-cruise?  Tell us in your comments below!

Photo credit: Wikipedia

People and Products on Twitter this week

products on twitterThis week saw a lot of interesting eldercare news out on the Twittersphere.  If you’re on twitter and want to have your tweets featured on The Senior List make sure you follow us there.  You can find us here @SeniorList.  Same goes for Facebook, if you’re on Facebook make sure we’re connected up so we can talk there too.  You can find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheSeniorList or just put The Senior List into your search bar.  OK, here are your Sunday morning tweets that caught our eye… Oh and enjoy your day!

The Pic Scanner App is a new “old photo scanner” that makes it easy to digitize your family pictures that are sitting in the shoe box. This might be one of our favorite products on Twitter this week.  Here’s the description in the App Store: Love old photos? Then you will love this app. Scans up to four pics simultaneously, and crops them automatically. So easy! Preserve & share memories with friends and family. A “must-have” app for tbt, craft, genealogy, ancestry and digital scrapbooking lovers.

If you needed inspiration this week (after digging out of all that snow), this sign may have done the trick for you. I love these kind of anonymous gestures!

If that weren’t enough, here’s some more inspiration for your Sunday morning!

Given today is the first day of March, this tweet seems appropriate!

I never thought of Bangkok at an optimal retirement destination but apparently some think it is!

Unless you were buried in snow, and just dug out… You know that we lost generational icon Leonard Nimoy this week. He lived long, and he prospered.

You’d be surprised to know how many people are afraid to discuss real issues that affect aging adults. Topics like urinary incontinence and hemorrhoids affect a lot of people as they age, no reason to hide from these things… Let’s learn about them!

Finally – I found a nice one to end on. One of our favorite posts of all time. You’ll want to click through and read this letter if you haven’t already. Also, feel free to RT!

Healthiest Cities Ranked

Healthiest Cities in the U.S.Ever wondered where your city ranks in terms of fitness?  Living here in Portland Oregon, we know that PDX is one of the healthiest cities around.  Portlanders are generally very fit and (if you believe Portlandia) very weird… Of course this is just the way we like it!  By the way, if you’ve ever watched Portlandia and wondered – are Portlanders really like that? We are.  

This month BetterDoctor.com published their list of the fittest cities in the U.S.  BetterDoctor.com, a website that helps consumers find the best doctor for their needs, gives us some interesting statistics to ponder.  These statistics rank-order cities on either how “fit” cities are, or how “sedentary” they are.  Some of the cities on the “fit list” are my favorite places to visit, and where many of my friends and family have settled in.  (*Special Note – These cities would also be great considerations for retirement for active adults.)

Here are the criteria themes they considered when ranking the fittest cities:

  1. Do other people in the city exercise?
  2. Are other residents fit?
  3. Do residents have access to high-quality parks and outdoor spaces?

Top 20 Healthiest Cities

Here are the top 20 fittest cities in the U.S. as ranked by BetterDoctor.com. The score you see following each city is their “fit cities index score”.  How does your hometown rank?

  1. Aurora, Colo., 75.2
  2. San Francisco, 73.6
  3. Oakland, 72.3
  4. Albuquerque, 70.9
  5. Seattle, 70.9
  6. Denver, 70.5
  7. Portland, Ore., 70.0
  8. Sacramento, 68.4
  9. Irvine, Calif., 66.8
  10. San Diego, 66.5
  11. Scottsdale, Ariz., 63.8
  12. San Jose, Calif., 63.5
  13. St. Paul, Minn., 63
  14. Minneapolis, Minn., 62.8
  15. Honolulu, 62.2
  16. Colorado Springs, Colo., 62.2
  17. Reno, 61.9
  18. Washington, D.C., 61.2
  19. Virginia Beach, Va., 58.4
  20. Boston, 58.3

All About (Healthy) Portland

Best Cruises To Consider In 2015

Best Cruises to take in 2015Thinking about taking a cruise this year?  Ya, we are too!  If you’re interested in the best cruises to consider in 2015, you might first start with the top cruise ships.  We found a handy website that just published a top 10 list of the best cruise ships to consider this year.  Cruise Critic boasts that it’s the leading cruise review website in the world.  They also hosts the largest cruise “community” of it’s kind.  Cruise Critic is easy to navigate, and there is a lot of great information to glean from the consumer ratings to cruise news you can use.

What I most like about cruise critic is that there is a robust community contributing meaningful content to the site.  For example, take a look at the below screenshot to see the user contributions for the cruise ship “Disney Dream“.

Best Cruises to take in 2015

With 398 reviews of the Disney Dream Cruise Liner, you can do some interesting trending analysis to see if this cruise is for you.  This looks like a great ship, and sure enough the Disney Dream tops their list of best cruises to take in 2015 (for big ships).

Cruise Critic has ratings for all of the best cruises you can take this year.  They even look at the size of the ship for those folks that might want a smaller cruise ship to consider this year.  For those of you that love the big cruise liners, here is Cruise Critics’ top 10 (Big Ship) best cruises for 2015:

Cruise Critics Best Cruise Ships for 2015

  1. Disney Dream
  2. Disney Fantasy
  3. Nieuw Amsterdam
  4. Celebrity Equinox
  5. Celebrity Reflection
  6. Celebrity Eclipse
  7. Allure of the Seas
  8. Carnival Liberty
  9. Jewel of the Seas
  10. Carnival Valor

Do you enjoy cruising?  What ships have been your favorites over the years.  Do you stick with one cruise liner, or mix it up a bit?  Fill us in using the comments section below.  We’d love to hear from you!

Leonard Nimoy Dies At 83

Leonard Nimoy dead at 83

“Live Long and Prosper”

News outlets reported earlier today that Leonard Nimoy (Spock) died this morning of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  The New York Times noted that Leonard Nimoy attributed his disease to years of smoking which he had given up many years ago.  Simply said, he was an icon for several generations.  Outpourings of support have rolled in from his friends, co-workers and family on social media networks, and in the news.  You lived long and you prospered Mr. Nimoy.  You shall be missed.

Photo Credit: ABC News

Tim McGraw Tribute To Glen Campbell

Tim McGraw tribute to Glen CampbellIn one of the most poignant moments at this year’s Academy Awards show Tim McGraw delivered a tribute to country singer (and legend) Glen Campbell.  If you weren’t aware, Glen Campbell is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.  His disease has progressed far enough that he isn’t able to perform like he once did.  So if you’re going to attempt to replace an icon like Glen Campbell, you might as well do it with a modern superstar.  Up steps Tim McGraw… And in the true spirit of Glen Campbell’s last song, he delivers an incredible rendition that moved the audience to tears.

Tim McGraw Tribute to Glen Campbell at The Oscars

As we wrote back in November, “The song “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” was written especially for Glen Campbell’s recently released documentary called “I’ll Be Me” by PCH Films. The lyrics are eerily poignant, and this piece will forever be known as Glen Campbell’s last song.”  Enjoy this Tim McGraw tribute to Glen Campbell!

Are You Afraid Of Dying?

Are you afraid of dying?It’s a simple question.  Are you afraid of dying?  In her beautifully written essay over at When The Table Turns, Judy Fox posed the question to her mother, for whom she is a full-time caregiver.  In a moment of clarity, Judy’s mother answered no, that she wasn’t afraid, and actually “she was looking forward to it”.  When Judy asked her why, she explained that she “would be at peace”.

Death and dying is such a tough topic for many folks, myself included.  The realization that we have a finite time-limit in this existence is difficult to get your arms around.  How much more time will I have with my parents?  How much time will I have with my children?  How much time will I have with my husband? These are all fundamentally difficult questions to consider.  No one wants to run out of time, so clearly the key is to make your time count.

In a previous post we took a look at just how much quality time we have in our lives (away from work, commutes, sleeping, and more).  The reality is that the hourglass has been tipped for each of us.  What we do, how we do it, and who we do it with defines us whether we like it or not.  Being able to “be in the moment” matters, and so is consciously loving AND being loved.  Judy Fox captures these thoughts so eloquently in her essay entitled “Catching The Fleeting Moment“.  Here are a few excerpts:

A few days after writing this I was talking to a friend who had recently visited a relative in hospice. This relative didn’t seem to realize she was dying and consequently it wasn’t discussed. I realized how lucky I was that my mom has so openly accepted her dying and how much that has affected our whole being together. There are no hidden corners…we can talk about dying and death; we can say how much we love each other with the awareness that we have limited time together on this earthly plane. This is very much a result of my mother’s openness. She has made this possible.

So I am like this fisherwoman catching these fleeting moments in time and giving them space, giving them room to expand and grow. I open a door and then all sorts of reflections and conversations get aired and ignited.

And like a fisherwoman, I want to share my “catch” with others whose lives are probably very different from mine – circumstances different – and yet I know that what touches me will touch others; not in the details necessarily, but in the mystery of life; in all these tender moments that contain such jewels.

Judy often stops by and visits The Senior List on Facebook, so you can catch her on FB, or at her website. We’re so very appreciative that Judy shares such an important narrative with us. The fact that she does it with such style and grace is icing on the cake.

Product Review: SafeWander

SafeWander Wandering Detection Device

Photo Credit: SafeWander.com

Most product reviews I do are pretty straightforward, we either like it, or we don’t.  I typically review products that are game-changers, new to market, or have been doing it right all along that they deserve to be mentioned.  I decided to review SafeWander without even testing it yet, it’s still in beta, but it’s a game-changer.  It might also make you cry.  I’ll wait while you go grab your tissues…… ok, ready?

Alzheimer’s Disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.

Alzheimer’s disease affects 5.2 million patients in the U.S. alone, 65% of them also wander. -Alz.org

Fifteen year old Kenneth Shinozuka lives in a multi-generational home in New York City that includes his grandfather who has Alzheimer’s disease.  After several frightening incidents when his grandfather wandered out of the family home in the middle of the night, Kenneth decided it was time for him to solve this problem.  He wanted to create a simple solution that could detect wandering.  Out of the concern for his grandfather and his aunt who was his primary caregiver, SafeWander was born.

SafeWander: Instant Alerts for Wander-Detection

SafeWander is a flexible pressure sensor that is worn on the heel or in a sock.  In addition to creating the sensor, Kenneth then added a wireless signal to the sensor and created a smartphone app to alert a caregiver to the user activating the sensor.  Since his grandfather’s wandering was happening at night, the sensor works perfectly to alert the caregiver when his grandfather steps out of bed.  I presume the same would apply to someone getting up out of a chair.  SafeWander has caught 100% of his grandfather’s wandering and has brought peace of mind to his family.

Did you grab the tissue?  See Kenneth talk about his journey in the heartwarming video below.

SafeWander is being beta tested in memory care settings and so far the response has been very positive.  While not yet available to the general public, SafeWander will be releasing product in early 2015.  This review will be updated once we are able to get our hands on SafeWander.  The big picture here is that Kenneth says that he wants to focus his career on finding solutions for those with Alzheimer’s. “I’d like to solve some of the mysteries of the brain, and invent tools to ultimately, I think, cure Alzheimer’s and other mental conditions that our aging population suffers from.” You go Kenneth, we can’t wait to hear more from you.

In the meantime, if you are looking for additional resources for wandering, consider the options below.

Alzheimer’s Association: The Alzheimer’s Association is the go-to website with research, resources, and links to local chapters.

GPS Trackers: There are a variety of products on the market designed to locate people and objects via GPS- I found a great list here.

GPS Smart Sole: Such a great idea that I had to include it- A GPS enable insole that fits right in a shoe.  No bracelet or jewelry required!

Senior Housing Trends For 2015

Senior Housing Trends in 2015As you can imagine, senior housing is an important topic for boomers and seniors today.  Where to live and perhaps more importantly, how to live, are important considerations when one is no longer able to live independently in their own home.  The senior housing (or as some call it, senior living) industry is also BIG business for some.  There are big bets being placed on what regional markets will be the next best city where you can retire for less, and how to provide services that meet local demands.

One of the interesting trends we’re seeing is the movement out of the suburbs and into the cities for some retirees.  Unfortunately for those that want to move in close, there is much demand but little supply.  The Washington Post reports; “Today, relatively few viable residential options for seniors exist within central cities or densely developed urban areas near city centers. Most senior housing is located instead in low-density suburbs or in small towns, where land is cheap and development costs are lower.”  That means that both private and public investment will begin to focus on this area as the incredibly affluent boomer market will begin to force their hand.

Senior Housing Trends

A recent report by Senior Housing News also identified some interesting senior housing trends for 2015, most notably:

  • The role of technology and services that allow people to live independently will skyrocket.  (See our reports on medical alert systems for an example of technology in demand.)
  • Cost effective senior living solutions are more important than ever.  As folks live longer, their savings become stretched and stretched.  Many are unprepared for the high cost of senior housing, and the role of inflation on their budgets.
  • Remote monitoring technology for those that are aging-in-place will continue to grow.  These solutions provide connectivity to those that choose to remain at home, and/or live independently. The “services market” around connectivity solutions like GrandCare Systems, HealthSense (and others) is going to explode.
  • Employee turnover at senior housing facilities matters.  Not only can it affect the bottom line (employee recruiting, training/re-training), but it also affects the moral of the residents, AND can adversely affect patient care.
  • Brand management is a bigger deal than ever before.  Consumer trust today is paramount, and the internet makes it easy to help or hurt a senior housing community’s reputation in the local (or national) landscape.

What senior housing trends are you seeing in your local communities?  Tell us in the comments below!

The Future of Senior Care: Villages & Robots

Paro Robot Seal future of senior care

Photo Credit- parorobots.com

For the last decade, I have worked closely with families who are trying to find the best senior care facility for a loved one. I am fortunate to work in an area (Portland, OR) that offers a plethora of senior housing options, from traditional Retirement Living, Assisted Living, and Memory Care Communities. Portland also boasts an impressive 900+ Adult Care Homes (aka Adult Foster Care or Adult Family Homes) for folks who want/ need a smaller family-style setting.

Future of Senior Care

People often ask me what I think the future holds for elder care. I suspect this question stems from fears of what their own future holds or (most likely) that they are terrified of facing their later years in the current senior care model (which is becoming quickly outdated by the social and medical needs of the boomer generation).  The following ideas and companies are my picks for the “out of the box” thinkers, movers and shakers, and emerging models that are redefining the world of senior care.

Sharing is Caring: Elder CoHousing

While not a new model by any means, cohousing and elder cohousing continues to grow. Cohousing, at it’s core, is intentional, collaborative living in which residents participate in the planning, design, and daily operations of sharing indoor and outdoor spaces.   Cohousing creates strong communities, reduces costs, builds sustainability, and enhances the quality of life for those who can fully immerse themselves into a world of sharing.   Elder cohousing can assure residents that they will be fully supported in the later years by a community that has been established and is prepared to to meet the medical and social needs of the last 20-30 years of life.  To find a cohousing community near you, check out the directory of cohousing.org.  I was surprised to see how much this list has grown in just the last five years.  To learn more about cohousing check out the following resources:

Keeping it Normal: Dementia Village

Dementia Village is a community specially designed (think “The Truman Show”) to incorporate all the concepts of normal daily life for seniors with mid-to-late stage dementia.  This beautiful space is located in the town of Weesp near Amsterdam, Netherlands.  It was built in 2009 and has 160 residents.  The residents are broken up into groups of 7 who have similar lifestyles, interests and backgrounds.  Each group manages their own “house” and residents have their own private space.  Daily tasks like grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking and participating in the lifestyle in which the resident has been accustomed to all happen with the assistance of permanent staff for each house.  A theater, supermarket, restaurant and an out-patient care unit are all elements that keep the residents leading busy, normal lives with a dementia diagnosis.  One very unique element from a traditional “memory care” setting is that residents are allowed to move freely inside and outside of the house and through the village, while remaining within a protected environment.  You can see pictures and learn more at the Hogeweyk Dementia Village website.  I was very excited to learn that the first U.S. location for Dementia Village is underway in the SLO, CA area.  It will be called Mahal Cielo Village and will be the first of its kind in the U.S.  The video below is an extensive inside look at Dementia Village.

Resident Centered: Elite Care

Perhaps models like Elite Care exist in other parts of the country, if they do, I am unaware of them.  Elite Care is a Portland, OR based senior housing company who has redefined how senior care is delivered in my neck of the woods.  Elite Care communities are built with the resident in the driving seat, not the staff or company stockholders. Similar to elements of Dementia Village, the mid-sized communities are broken up into small “houses” that are designed to promote safety with autonomy.  While not a “locked” memory care, residents are supervised and monitored through technology, small settings,  and free-to-roam campuses.  In addition, Elite Care puts great emphasis on family involvement through monthly gatherings, free visitor meals, and rooms to rent for out-of-town guests. Walking paths, resident-maintained edible gardens, and on-site chickens are also stand-outs in an industry of structure, regulation and corporate policies.   Elite Care also made my “Best of Portland, Oregon” list last year based on online reviews.

Coming Very, Very Soon: Robots

I write about technology that keeps seniors as independent as possible in their home.  The aging-in-place drumbeat gets louder with each new company and piece of equipment that becomes available.  From medical alert systems, appliance sensors (my review on these coming soon), to full-house activity hubs and interactive software, the list is growing for senior care technology options in the home.  And very soon, Robots.  Robots are already being used in places like Europe and Japan for senior care.

  • Giraff: Think of a mobile Skype robot.  The robot is one part of a complete home-based system that uses a network of sensors to monitor activity.  As of 2014 Giraff is being tested in real homes around Europe.
  • Paro Therapeutic Robot: Cute, cuddly, and oh! those eyes.  Paro is an interactive robot that espouses the benefits of animal therapy.  The robotic seal has several kinds of sensors that can detect sound, being touched, light, and temperature. You can purchase your own Paro for $6,000.
  • “Hector” from The Companion Able Project: Another integrated home robot that interacts with its human about medication reminders, to-do lists, and social interaction prompts like missed calls from loved ones.  Trials and demonstrations currently ongoing in Europe.

Have you seen the future of senior care?  I want to hear about it- leave your comments below!