Friday, June 3, 2016

It's All About the Food!

According to Prevarian Senior Living Managing Principal Allan Brown, senior residents tend to complain the most about two things: the temperature and the food. The days of batch cooking three meals a day and serving them on white tablecloths at 7 am, noon and 5:30 pm are gone, says Brown. Residents of senior living communities want greater variety, meals customized to their own tastes, healthier food options, and more freedom to eat where and when they choose. Capital Senior Living Senior Vice President Carey Hendrickson says the food director is one of the most important employees at their senior living facility. Capital Senior Living's food directors get creative and collaborate with each other on menu offerings.

According to NPR, despite a reputation for bland, institutional fare, hundreds of retirement communities around the nation now tout their restaurant-like dining experiences, with food that is fresh, local and cooked from scratch.

The importance of food to our daily life and its central position in quality of life programming is one of the reasons Community Crier Social Software offers a dining module. Our dining page offers easy to use, full function services to streamline work for food directors and provide one-stop, user friendly information for residents.

  • Food directors, chefs, dining hall staff can:
    • post daily menus in a central, easy to access, online forum 
    • make last minutes changes and updates with a few key strokes
    • pre-load set menus and set active dates to streamline work flow
    • upload photos or maps to dining locations
  • Residents can 
    • easily find the information they need to make dining choices 
    • check-in on menu selections without having to call multiple locations or bother staff
    • send themselves a reminder or email friends an invite to join them for dinner directly from the menu listing


Sources:

 https://www.bisnow.com/dallas-ft-worth/news/senior-housing/how-to-thrive-in-senior-living-equity-programing-and-food-61753

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/06/02/410602679/mush-no-more-retirement-home-food-gets-fresh-and-local

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Great Amenities, Wonderful Activities, But...




"Senior housing is 10% sticks and bricks and 90% programming and people," says Paul Mullin, Senior Vice President of Development at Silverado senior living communities. Silverado hosts events, offers a wide array of programming and creates fun spaces to help maintain residents' vibrancy. They've seen strong interest in additions like libraries, brain game centers and purposeful programming. Indeed, they identify the importance of enriching the quality of life for clients, residents, patients, families and associates as their top priority. Mullin says that with the growing wellness culture overflowing into senior housing, residents now expect to have more options to engage their physical, emotional, spiritual and social well-being along with more traditional assisted living and health care options.
Seniors visiting a library

A Place for Mom cautions, however, that while lavish features and a robust calendar of activities may sound attractive, many people later realize that fancy furniture, beautiful landscaping and a busy schedule are not necessarily sound indicators of quality senior care. A beautiful, modern and upscale facility is just as prone to oversights and errors as a community that looks a little dated.

A prime example of that is the example of a facility we recently visited that has a beautiful campus, cozy apartments and town homes, several dining options, and a full schedule of interesting activities. Unfortunately, this otherwise excellent community suffers from an unwieldy communications system. Residents are inundated by dozens of event flyers each week. Registering for an event that looks interesting requires a phone call or a walk to the office. There was no system to remind residents of upcoming events they had signed up for, resulting in many no shows and missed events. Many of the residents we spoke to had given up in frustration and now just threw out the stacks of papers as they came in without even looking at them. Even when they did see an event they thought was interesting, all too often the piece of paper got misplaced, or they didn't make it into the office to register in time. For obvious reasons, many of the residents we spoke with were extremely dissatisfied with the system. They felt that it hampered their ability to engage in the activities offered by the facility and made it harder to get to now other residents as a result.

It's not uncommon for senior living communities to invest millions of dollars in keeping their facilities modern and up-to-date, or to create an exciting array of activities for their residents, but missing the boat on small but vital details like the facility above compromises the quality of care and the level of engagement that residents actually experience.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Communication is Seen as Key to Quality of Life

Photographer: Bill Branson
Quality of life is affected by many factors. For older Americans, declining capacity, health issues, and isolation can significantly deteriorate quality of life. According to Dr. Richard Besdine, Professor of Medicine, Director of the Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research, Director of the Division of Geriatrics in the Department of Medicine at Brown University and former President of the American Geriatrics Society, the matrix of factors that impact our quality of life as we age include physical and mental health, interpersonal relationships, functional status, social life and participation in activities, and financial health. Key factors to a good quality of life according to Dr. Besdine include:
  • Absence of distressing physical symptoms (eg, pain, dyspnea, nausea, constipation)
  • Emotional well-being (eg, happiness, absence of anxiety)
  • Functional status (eg, capacity to do activities of daily living and higher-order functions, such as pleasurable activities)
  • Quality of close interpersonal relationships (eg, with family members)
  • Participation in and enjoyment of social activities
  • Satisfaction with medical and financial aspects of treatments
  • Financial health
  • Sexuality, body image, and intimacy

In 2013, the Pew Trust conducted a large scale study to determine what people of different ages saw as the most important of these functions and capabilities in maintaining a good quality of life as
we age. One might suspect that physical health and concerns over dementia topped the chart, but suprisingly the ability to communicate with others was ranked the most important factor to maintaining a good quality of life across all generations, more so even than long and short term memory, being able to dress and feed oneself, living without severe or long-term pain, or feeling that one is doing something worthwhile with one's life. Fully, 93-95% of respondents, regardless of age, ranked communication as extremely or very important

Retirement communities who want to remain competitive need to provide easy access to social life and communication tools for their residents. Increasingly, older adults are retiring from jobs that required the use of email, websites, social media, and other digital communications tools, and who are comfortable using these tools in their personal life. While older adults may not like change in their favorite programs and platforms, they are increasingly tech saavy and expect digital tools to be part and parcel of their life. Indeed, among adults who use social media, seniors spend the most time online of all age groups. Retirement communities can no longer rely on paper or phone to communicate with their residents, and many prospective residents will be looking for digital tools to easily keep in touch with neighbors, community activities, dining halls, and maintenance and other staff.

Sources:

http://www.pewforum.org/2013/11/21/chapter-6-aging-and-quality-of-life/

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Dangers of the Digital Divide

The longer you wait, the more marginalized you’re going to become." So says Deloitte co-founder John Hagel, III talking about how important it is for companies to implement digital solutions for their customers needs immediately. Deloitte recently conducted its third study on consumer expectations and found, "This year, and over two million data points later, the continuing growth of digital influence is resulting in a widening divide between consumers’ digital expectations and retailers’ ability to deliver on them."

In an interview with professor Gerald Kane of Boston College's Carroll School of Management, published in the MIT Sloan Management Review, Hagel said that while consumers are increasingly demanding sophisticated digital solutions for information gathering, communication, and shopping needs, companies tend to look at digital technology as a choice or a potential opportunity, rather than a necessity. That mindset will result in decreased market share, potentially threatening the viability of companies who resist digital solutions, according to Hagel.

This issue is particularly acute for older consumers. Adults 50 years old and above represent the Web's largest constituency, comprising one-third of the total 195.3 million Internet users in the U.S. According to the Pew Trust over 90% of college educated and seniors whose incomes are over 75,000 going online regularly, with an average of 19 hours a week Among older adults who use the internet, 71% go online every day or almost every day, and an additional 11% go online three to five times per week."

Seniors who go online have very positive attitudes about the Internet and its benefits in their daily life. The Pew Trust says they are "fervent users of the Internet who love email and often use the Web to gather important information such as material to help them manage their health." They further report that, "Fully 79% of older adults who use the internet agree with the statement that 'people without internet access are at a real disadvantage because of all the information they might be missing,' while 94% agree with the statement that “the internet makes it much easier to find information today than in the past.”

For retirement communities, digital solutions for their residents is increasingly necessary, with impacts on marketability, acquisition and retention of residents, and resident satisfaction and quality of life.

Sources:
http://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/consumer-business/articles/navigating-the-new-digital-divide-retail.html

http://www.pewinternet.org/2001/09/10/wired-seniors-four-million-americans-aged-65-and-over-are-online-sending-email-to-family-members-and-surfing-for-important-informatio/

http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/04/03/older-adults-and-technology-use/

https://www.immersionactive.com/resources/50-consumers-online/





Wednesday, May 18, 2016

AARP on Senior Living

The AARP has a great article on their blog about Senior Living. One of the key points they make is that not only are we living longer, we are living better! There are over 106 million people over the age of 50 in America. People who are engaged, active and "comprise a new 'longevity economy,' which is larger than the economy of any country except China and the United States."

They also write, "Innovation is driving the new reality of aging, and technology is the driver of innovation. We have come to expect technology to help us live longer and better. We demand products and services that meet our every need. We're planning for the future: where we'll live, how we'll get around, how we'll stay connected, how we'll get health care and long-term care and how we'll make our money last. We're thinking about how to live a longer life in the best way possible, and we are drawn to innovations that help people of all ages live longer lives and improve the quality of life for everyone."

This is what Community Crier Social Software is all about!  If you work or live at a retirement community, or if you have a loved one who does, our product can help make life richer, fuller and more rewarding for residents, while lowering costs and helping staff be more effective and efficient, and helping families stay connected.  For more info, call Doug at (513) 349-9932 or email dschmidt@crieronline.com

Full AARP article here: http://www.aarp.org/politics-society/advocacy/info-2016/older-americans-month-new-realities-jenkins.html


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Montessori for Seniors

Senior Living Executive Magazine reports that Montessori methods can improve quality of life for seniors with memory impairment. A recent study by Taiwan’s National Yang-Ming University studied the use of Montessori principles and activities to help seniors with memory issues. "Sixty-three seniors with dementia who experienced 24 sessions combining spaced retrieval and Montessori-based therapy displayed improved eating habits, a higher body mass index, and less depression than 27 seniors who received routine memory care." 

Maria Montessori
Montessori core principles include respect for self and others, self-directed learning, learning through cooperation and collaboration among peers, and learning as a multi-sense process where touching, manipulating, smelling, hearing, seeing, and tasting are all important parts of the learning process. Its educational program is designed around the belief that the physical, emotional, social, aesthetic, spiritual, and cognitive needs and interests are inseparable and equally important. 

Janina Bogner, MS (http://www.sahp.vcu.edu/departments/vcoa/) says, "The philosophy of the Montessori method is to create persons who are as independent as possible, able to make choices, while being treated with respect and dignity. It assumes that persons want to be independent, show the abilities they have, and learn new ones; so it offers meaningful activities in environments designed to accommodate their needs. The method works with adults who have mental and physical impairments and builds upon the older adult's remaining abilities."




Sources:
(http://www.alfapublications.org/alfapublications/may_june_2013)


Monday, April 25, 2016

Technology and Seniors

Seniors are increasingly tech saavy
As Baby Boomers grows older, they are changing the face of retirement in unexpected ways. The Boomer generation, having borne the brunt of caring for their own aging parents, doesn't want to burden their adult children with their own care-giving, but they often find the daily work of cooking, cleaning, and maintenance of a house is too demanding. As a result, many are making the move into retirement or independent living communities, a trend that is only going to grow the Boomer generation has just begun to hit their seventies. SeniorHomes.com recently posted an article describing how retirement communities are evolving rapidly to fit the needs of Boomer residents. And the number one item was technology.

Reporting results from,"A recent survey conducted by Mather LifeWays with Life Services of Illinois in late 2008" Senior Homes writes: "Independent living is at the top of the list for most seniors and most are serious about technology. That means that senior living communities must offer state-of-the-art systems for computer-savvy seniors. Those leaving the workforce today have become accustomed to and very adept at building their careers and a portion of their personal lives around computers. Seniors want services available that will allow them to maintain independence."

We couldn't agree more! While stereotypes depict seniors as unconnected, lacking tech saavy, disdainful or even fearful of new technology, reality is that seniors are increasingly online. Research from the Pew Trust from 2012 revealed that 75% of seniors aged 65-70 use the Internet; 68% of those 70-75 do; and nearly half those between 75-80 do.  Higher income and more educated seniors are even more likely to use the internet. Among seniors with an annual household income of $75,000 or more 90% go online while 87% of seniors with a college degree go online. As a younger generation moves into retirement, independent and assisted living communities, clearly they are going to look for facilities that have modern, state of the art technology tools.

Sources:
http://www.seniorhomes.com/p/senior-living-communities/
http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/04/03/older-adults-and-technology-use/
http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/04/03/usage-and-adoption/





Friday, April 22, 2016

Use It or Lose It

older runners
Regular Exercise Improves
Learning and Memory Abilities
We generally think of the phrase "use it or lose it" with reference to muscle strength, spelling ability, sports skills, or professional knowledge, but new research is showing a cross-linkage between exercise and memory.  Researchers are discovering that if you don't use your muscles, you'll not only lose strength but you are also impairing your memory capacity at the same time.

Scientists at Kings College London studied 324 female twins over the course of ten years and found that those who had the strongest legs at the start of the study had better mental skills a decade later than their less fit siblings. Indeed, according to lead researcher Claire Steves, leg power had a stronger correlation with thinking, learning and memory skills than any other lifestyle factor.

Another recent study that followed men and women aged 60 to 80 over the course of a year found that a short walk three times a week was correlated with size increases in the regions of the brain linked to planning and memory.

While researchers haven't determined all of the mechanisms by which exercise impacts mental health there are several theories that help explain the correlation.  Aerobic exercise has been shown to increase the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with learning and memory. Other studies have found that when you use your muscles, they release hormones that can encourage nerve cells to grow, strengthening connections within the brain. Another theory has been that regularly increasing the flow of oxygen rich blood through physical activity helps prevent the build-up of the proteins which cause Alzheimer's.

Our Community Crier social software helps residents of retirement communities, and independent and assisted living communities stay fit by connecting them to opportunities to get active where they live, whether it's an aerobics class, the Saturday afternoon swing dance or a walking group in their community. With seamless event registration, reminders, and the ability to see who else is coming and to invite friends, we remove many of the barriers to participation that keep seniors at home.



Sources:
Dr. Claire Steves' research paper on leg strength in Gerentology
Dr. Kirk Erickson's paper on exercise and hippocampus growth
More information on exercise and hormones
Research on Blood flow and proteins



Monday, April 18, 2016

Not As Prescribed: It Might Not be Alzheimer's

As we get older, our brains change. Many of us struggle to remember names of actors or authors we could once pull up in a second. Sometimes we get confused about what year events happened, or how old our adult children are now. The perfect word that used to come to mind so easily takes minutes or days to swim up out of the depths of our minds. The keys never seem to be where we thought we left them.

It's difficult to know how much of this is due to the normal aging process and what are the signs of something more serious. Many fear that common difficulties are signals of incipient Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia, while others dismiss serious mental impairment as nothing more than getting older. With so little known about the senior brain and the mechanisms of dementia, many older adults are left worried, depressed, or confused as to what is happening to them and what to expect in their future.

 A new book from Dr. Harry Haroutunian, Not As Prescribed: Recognizing and Facing Alcohol and Drug Misuse in Older Adults, makes the case that in many instances symptoms of aging such as memory loss, falling, or dry mouth, are actually symptoms of a bad reaction to a drug or harmful drug combinations. In particular,  Dr. Haroutunian asserts that many memory issues are likely due to drug side effects.

Dr. Haroutunian recommends an annual drug audit for older adults, especially those taking multiple medications prescribed by different doctors, in which they take all their medications to one of their doctors to do a medical reconciliation. This process helps identify any potential interactions and possible multiplication of effects. While not all memory issues are due to drug side effects, Dr. Haroutunian maintains that many problems could be eliminated by more careful monitoring and more judicious use of physical therapy, diet adjustment, and exercise rather than drugs to solve common problems.

The book also takes a hard look at how older adults can become addicted to pain killers, or may be self-medicating with drugs or alcohol.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Strong Social Ties Key to Senior Happiness and Health

Exercise Class
Sharing Activities Promotes Health, Happiness, and Longevity
We all need friends. They enrich our lives, participating in our interests and introducing us to new ones, sharing our joys and sorrows, standing by us in good times and hard ones, offering a sympathetic ear, a helping hand or a congratulatory hug when most needed.

Research has shown that seniors are happier and healthier when they have a robust social life, including family relationships, a close confidant or two, and a circle of friends they like to do things with. A strong social network not only offers health benefits in areas that have an obvious connection to social ties such as depression or blood pressure levels, but also in a whole array of ailments and disabilities from Alzheimer’s to cardiovascular health, from arthritis to osteoporosis to cancer. Indeed, research out of Australia has demonstrated that strong friendships are the most important factor in increased lifespan, more so even than close family relationships.

Unfortunately, maintaining an active social life can be challenging for many seniors. Retirement and relocation often disrupt previous social ties. Decreased mobility can impede social activities. And as we age our social circle decreases through bereavement.

Community Crier Social Software helps seniors in independent and assisted living communities stay connected and find activities to share with their friends improving quality of life, health and happiness. Email Doug@crieronline.com and we’ll be glad to show you how!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Welcome!

loveWelcome to The Community Crier Blog. This is the place you can come to find information about our products and upgrades to them. We will also be posting on issues of importance to our users — residents of retirement communities and their loved ones, as well as staff. We look forward to getting to know you!