I’m sitting at home, thinking maybe it’s time to fly off somewhere on vacation. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I know that hundreds of planes are taking off and landing at local airports throughout the day and evening. But who’s up there…
Purportedly, journalist Ken Griffiths of The Sunday Times took a photo of the same couple, in the same place (outside their home), each season for 12 consecutive years. There are many theories surrounding this series of photos. Some say it’s Ken Griffiths’ parents and he chronicled their love for one another through their final 12 seasons together. Others merely note the acclaimed photographer and journalist took the photos of some would be friends to be originally published in 1973. The results no matter which way you cut it are amazing, and they are making their way around the web for all to ponder.
“When you’re young you prefer the vulgar months, the fullness of the seasons. As you grow older you learn to like the in-between times, the months that can’t make up their minds. Perhaps it’s a way of admitting that things can’t ever bear the same certainty again.”
― Julian Barnes, Flaubert’s Parrot
There is something magical about each season anew. Each bring with it inevitable change, glory and even decay. Spring brings with it eternal hope and each season unveils a new chapter. The same holds true in our lives, and I love to think about the parallels between our mother earth… and each of us that share her for a brief moment in time.
If you or a family member is wearing a traditional (tethered to your land-line based telephone) medical alert system, you probably won’t be in a few years. You see times they are a changing. Traditional land-line based telephone systems are becoming a thing of the past… And those land-line based medical alert systems (think “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”) will be pushed out of the way by newer digital mobile devices. It’s actually happening right now.
The landscape in this market is changing at a rapid pace. Traditional form factors like the iconic pendant buttons could also be replaced. Did you know that there are medical alert apps out there for the iPhone and for Android devices? Wearable digital devices are the new rage. Think the new iWatch won’t have a medical alert app? Think again… The innovators out there (the companies that will lead this space) have already begun to go mobile. GreatCall, Philips and MobileHelp have already been leaning in this direction, and I’m guessing there are more innovators out there preparing to enter this space.
The Senior List recently published a profile of 5 cellular based medical alert system providers currently on the market. There are 2 additional cell based medical alert systems scheduled to launch this fall. One from Philips Lifeline and from MobileHelp. Further “change agents” will see this market as ripe for innovation, and it should prove very interesting to follow.
I’m not writing a regular column anymore, but recent statistics released by the Department of Veterans Affairs were so shocking, I felt the need to address them in a public forum. The report entitled “Suicide Data Report: 2012“ examined suicide among our veterans, and found some alarming trends. Incredibly, the suicide rate among veterans in 2009 and 2010 (the latest year data was accumulated) stood at 22 per day. That’s right… per day! The rigors of war, and the toll that takes on a veteran and their families can be overwhelming at times. Conforming to a normal life after living in a combat zone for a year (or longer) can be confusing and downright difficult.
“The suicide level for veterans is unacceptable, what we’re seeing is an extraordinary tragedy which speaks to the horror of war and the need for us to do a much better job assisting our soldiers and their families after they return home.” — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Chairman: Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee
Estimated number of veteran suicides 1999-2010
Suicide Data Report: 2012 – VA.gov
There are some things that we all can do to be more aware AND to take action on if we suspect someone is in crisis.
If you suspect a veteran friend or loved one is at risk for suicide, you should take the following actions now:
- Reach out to them today (don’t wait). Let them know you are thinking about them and give them ample opportunity to talk to you. Your goal here is to be a good listener. Look for additional clues and/or at-risk behaviors, and more than anything make sure they know they can count on you if things escalate. The Mayo Clinic offers a list of questions you can ask a suicidal person like “How are you coping with what’s been happening in your life?” and “Do you ever feel like just giving up?” Interestingly, the Mayo Clinic notes that “Asking about suicidal thoughts or feelings won’t push someone into doing something self-destructive. In fact, offering an opportunity to talk about feelings may reduce the risk of acting on suicidal feelings.”
- Make sure they know about resources like the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255 & press 1 to talk to someone live). Additionally there is a Crisis Text Line (text 838255), AND an interactive Confidential Veterans Chat Portal (you’ll find it online at VeteranCrisisLine.net). Another great resource for anyone (veteran or not) is The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can speak to someone now by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Look for the warning signs. Did you know that the VA’s 2012 Suicide Report indicated that the methods for non-fatal (suicidal) events showed that 51% of (veteran) suicide attempts included poisoning/overdosing? Look for the accumulation of pills etc. Do they have access to firearms? This same report indicated firearms were used in 10.9% of non-fatal suicides. How are they sleeping? Are they isolating themselves from friends and family? Are they talking about being a burden to others?
- Help them get the help they need. If your friend or family member is in crisis, you CAN help them get the assistance they need. Do the heavy lifting for them if necessary… Offer to join them when calling one of the hot-lines mentioned above. Offer to take them to the doctors office.. and sit-in with them if necessary. A family physician is a great resource for identifying the severity of suicide risk, and finding the proper resources to help.
- Finally, to avert a crisis… call 911. If all else fails, you need to call 911. It’s a difficult call to make but if it means the difference between life and death… you make the call!
Book Review: Guy Kawasaki’s “Enchantment”
I had the pleasure of previewing Guy Kawasaki’s new book “Enchantment“ earlier this year. Kawasaki’s Enchantment hit stores March 8th, and it provides a guide to creating the next irresistable company, brand or widget (think Google, Groupon, or the iPhone).
This is a must-read for start-ups as well as established companies. As consumers become more and more sophisticated, companies must do more to get their attention (and hold onto it). Regular visitors to The Senior List know that our platform allows the best senior-service providers to shine, and the worst providers to shine (albeit in a different light). I have little doubt that the providers with the best ratings and reviews here on The Senior List are practicing some of Guy Kawasaki’s strategies for Enchantment (whether they know it or not).
Having worked in the field and corporate offices of muti-national AND small companies, one chapter really struck a chord. Chapter 10 is titled; How to Enchant Your Employees. The heart and sole of any organization is it’s dedicated employees. Enchanting your customers is a no brainer, but I’d argue that it’s equally important to enchant your employees as well. Keeping and motivating employees is no easy task, and losing your best employees is a recipe for disaster. Let me share with you some of Guy’s strategies for enchanting employees:
- Provide a MAP: “Providing an opportunity for employees to achieve mastery, autonomy, and purpost (MAP) is more important than money.”
- Empower Them to Do the Right Thing: “Bottom line: Let your employees do the right thing, and you’ll enchant them. And then they will enchant your customers.”
- Judge Your Results and Others’ Intentions: “Judge yourself by what you’ve accomplished and others by what they intended. This means you are harsher on yourself than others”.
- Address Your Shortcomings First: “People who adopt this self-criticism strategy will improve managers because they take responsibility for lousy outcomes.”
- Suck It Up: (One of my personal favorites) “Sometimes you should suck it up and deal with adversity, because that’s what great people do.”
- Don’t Ask Employees to Do What You Wouldn’t Do: “Nothing will increase your credibility and loyalty better than this.”
- Celebrate Success: “One win can overcome a hundred losses, so celebrating success is a powerful way to enchant employees.”
(There’s more to the list in Chapter 10, but you’ll need to buy the book to experience the full effect.)
“Enchantment transforms situations and relationships. It converts hostility into civility. It reshapes civility into affinity. It changes skeptics and cynics into believers.”
-Guy Kawasaki from his new best seller, Enchantment
Lifelines Academy: What is it?
If you don’t know about Lifelines Academy yet, it’s time you did. Lifelines Academy is an online community for educating and connecting people serving seniors. The mission is to “prepare businesses, professionals and families to meet the challenges of – and to realize the opportunities associated with – the aging of America”. With over 500 online (interactive) courses, we think they do “education” quite well.
“The more businesses that collaborate, the better things can get for the seniors and their family caregivers” says Sheryl Hunter, CEO of Lifelines Academy. She learned this lesson first hand over many years of caring for her grandmother and an aunt, both suffering with Alzheimer’s disease. Sheryl, an attorney, co-founded Lifelines Academy in 2009 with business partner Beth Farrell. Together their goal remains educating and connecting people serving seniors nationwide. Lifelines Academy offers online courses for geriatric care managers, senior move managers, healthcare providers, designers and other professionals serving seniors. They also have a growning network of providers of goods and services to this marketplace.
The majority of courses offered by Lifelines Academy provide either continuing education credits or a specialty certification. This online educator is unique because the focus is on the entrepreneur. It’s focused on the entrepreneur who is seeking an innovative (turn-key) business solution to meet the needs of the growing aging market. Co-founder Beth Farrell explains, “people today have limited resources, one of which is time. Our courses are designed to enable people to take classes conveniently and cost effectively. They can do this online and receive valuable information, the right business forms, checklists, and marketing materials. These items allow for an immediate implementation of the course curriculum“. Both founders know that people serving seniors need to meet the needs of their clients AND be able to run a business.
Click through to review the online education offerings from Lifelines Academy… You’ll be glad you did!
A new study appearing in the February issue of “HealthAffairs” concludes that satisfaction levels among nurses providing patient care (in hospitals AND in nursing homes) doesn’t bode well for the 78 million baby boomers entering the system. Keep this statistic in mind as you consider the results of the study… The oldest baby boomers just turned 65 in January, and 10,000 boomers per day will turn 65 for the next 19 years! The study surveyed over 95,000 nurses, and uncovered some troubling statistics:
Job Satisfaction among nurses with direct patient care:
Nursing Home Staff
|Those that reported dissatisfaction in their job||24%||27%|
|Those that reported feeling burned out||34%||37%|
|Reported dissatisfaction with healthcare benefits||41%||51%|
|Reported dissatisfaction with retirement benefits||50%||60%|
Finally, this stat is a scary one… 36% of hospital nurses and 47% of nursing home nurses mentioned “workload” contributed to missing important changes in patient conditions. Interestingly, nurses in other (non patient care related) settings reported higher satisfaction levels in all of the relevant satisfaction areas mentioned above. Understanding just how these satisfaction levels are affecting patient care is important, because you can be sure it’s having a negative impact.
Nursing staff play an integral role in our current healthcare system, and those involved in patient care can count on INCREASED workload as retiring baby boomers place more pressure on the system. Finding ways to recruit more candidates into the system, and working to improve job satisfaction levels is more important than ever before.
The Senior List is an eldercare directory focused on consumer reviews. If you have something to say about senior-service providers in your local community please visit our senior care directory, and provide a review! Word of Mouth… It Works!
Just5 Winner: Karen Bazan Consulting:
The Senior List recently performed an in depth review of the Just 5 cell phone for seniors. If your familiar with The Senior List, you know that we’ve also reviewed 8 other manufacturers of cell phones for seniors. The good folks at Just5 provided The Senior List with a brand new Just5 phone (in the box) for our review. Just5 also allowed us to randomly draw a winner from our readers, to receive this great phone and its accessories (at no charge).
I’m very happy to announce that the winner of the Just5 phone is Karen Bazan of Karen Bazan Consulting Services. Karen Bazan joined The Senior List on Facebook, and told us she was interested in being eligible for the phone. Lucky for Karen, her name was first out of the hat and I know that phone will go to good home. Karen has over 18 years working with seniors and family caregivers, and has earned her CSA distinction (Certified Senior Advisor) from the Society of Certified Senior Advisors. Karen, your new Just5 phone is on its way… Enjoy!
Visit The Senior List Eldercare Directory to view ratings and reviews for senior services in your local community.
The Senior List also reviews key technologies that help boomers and seniors remain active and independent. Click here to see a review of popular medical alert systems for seniors.
A post in The New Old Age Blog (NY Times) entitled “Elder Tech: What’s Important” (by Karen Stabiner) prompted me to write a brief post about future trending in technology for seniors. As we get closer to the launch of CES 2011 (The Consumer Electronics Show produced by the Consumer Electronics Association), I’m hoping we get some answers to some looming questions.
Tech Trends: Boomers & Seniors
There is a buzz in the air about the impact of technology on aging adults today. Perhaps it’s brought on by the recent baby boomer milestone… Where the oldest of the Baby Boomers just turned 65 (as of January 1st, 2011). We’ve written at length about Senior-Friendly Cell Phones and Medical Alert Systems here on The Senior List.com. Boomers and Seniors (like everybody else) are interested in keeping in touch with loved ones, remaining independent in their own homes, and taking advantage of the many conveniences the new gadgets provide us today.
I’ll be following CES closely this year from Oregon, as my schedule won’t allow me to be in Vegas this week. Among other things, I’m interested in the following areas as it relates to seniors:
- Medical Alert Systems and PERS (personal emergency response systems) - Have these devices taken the next step in mobility? Until now, most of these devices require the user to be “tethered” to a 600 ft. radius (of a base unit). Though there are a few exceptions, we should be beyond this limitation by now. The future of medical alert systems will include; mobility beyond the home, fall detection, an extra long battery life, and GPS location services (for emergency personnel and families).
- Senior Friendly Cell Phones – Will senior-friendly cell phones adapt beyond 2 or 3 leading brands aimed at seniors? Necessary features must include big buttons, ease of use, an emergency button, compatibility with hearing devices, and easy volume controls.
- Senior Friendly Computers – There’s a bit of chatter out there about computers with a streamlined OS (operating systems), that will enable easy email, social sharing (like facebook, etc.), integrated web cams, and more. If you read the comments in the above noted article (from the NY Times) you’ll see that most seniors today have been around advances in technology their entire lives. They’re not scared of technology, they just want technology to be intuitive (as it should be).
Other areas we’ll be watching include advances in hearing aid technology, smart TV (internet ready), total home monitoring, and tele-health. (More on these items at a later date.) If you’re at CES, or just returning, please let us know what you were looking for… and what you found!
Happy New Year One And All
2011 is finally upon us, and we’ve now entered a new era that will be defined by aging “individuals” with the following characteristics; Money, Time, Affluence and Influence. 2011 will go down as the year of the Baby Boomer. The countdown has been going on for many years by forecasters, marketers, and by boomers themselves. This year, the oldest of the baby boomers will turn 65, the year many mark as “retirement age”. 79 million baby boomers will turn 65 every day for the next 19 years (it’s hard to imagine).
Baby Boomers are defined by their individualism, by their music, by civil rights advances, and by simultaneously fighting in AND protesting the Vietnam war. This era welcomed a culture-shift that opened the doors to greater “enlightenment”, “free love”, and “flower power”. Make no mistake, the wants, needs and desires of baby boomers will drive entire markets. Technologies that enable boomers to “Age in Place” (like telehealth, medical alert devices, home monitoring, and home modification services) will be gobbled up for the foreseeable future.
Great questions are looming however… Questions like; Will Medicare and Social Security be there for me when I need it? Who will help care for me when I can no longer care for myself? (and) Do I dare ask for a “senior coffee” at McDonalds? These questions and many more will take on greater meaning as more and more boomers continue to age.
The significance of the baby boomer countdown (to age 65) really hit me when I glanced at the Oregonian on January 1st, 2011 and read the (front page) headlines which read: “Welcome, baby boomers, to senior status”, “State last in elder advocates”, and “Magazine pioneer Anderegg dies at 70″. Seems there’s more to age than wine or cheese. There is power in numbers, and this year’s magic number is… 65.
If you enjoyed this article feel free to check out a number of other posts about boomer and senior issues including; Quality Neighboors Make The Best Soup (caregiving and the importance of good neighboors), and Medical Alert Systems – The Top 10 Questions You Should Ask Before Buying (on Medical Alert Systems, or PERS).
The Senior List is focused on Ratings and Reviews for Senior Services. If you’d like to recommend a local eldercare provider, please visit The Senior List Eldercare Directory.