Helpful apps for seniors

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

By Jeff Salter for Next Avenue


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


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


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


Credit: 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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Chaplain: A Living Soul


By Jerroll Martens, Newton Presbyterian Manor chaplain

“God gave to man “the breath of life and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7.

Unlike plants, animals and all other kind of life, humans are special to God and should be to us as well. As God views all of His creation, He is concerned the most about humankind. His care and love are so great He was willing to give His only begotten son for our redemption. Human life is so special that it should never be compared in its worth to any animal or other form of life.

Humans were created to have fellowship with our creator, God. We are the only living creatures to have that blessing. Unlike all other creation, man has a living soul which continues even when the body has given in to death. God is preparing a special and eternal place for those who know God through forgiveness.

Let’s not ever forget the special and highest of all God’s creation, the human being. May we bow in worship, obedience and praise to God.

Scholarships help employees advance their education

Employee committee members Ashley Sassi, Alanis Bishop, Dannica Avendano and Jodi Huntley share some of the hand-decorated treats that the committee created for an end-of-summer employee celebration. Ashley, Dannica and Jodi have all benefited from the Employee Education Assistance Fund.

Employee committee members Ashley Sassi, Alanis Bishop, Dannica Avendano and Jodi Huntley share some of the hand-decorated treats that the committee created for an end-of-summer employee celebration. Ashley, Dannica and Jodi have all benefited from the Employee Education Assistance Fund.

Three Newton Presbyterian Manor employees have received scholarships from the Employee Education Assistance Fund, continuing a long and strong tradition among our staff members of continuing education.

Executive Director Marc Kessinger said Presbyterian Manor strongly urges employees to take their education further and to take advantage of the fund. “We feel it’s pretty important to encourage it, because we see a lot of scholarship recipients who work their way up through Newton Presbyterian Manor. Probably half of our nurses have been scholarship recipients who have stayed with us,” he added. “We feel like that’s a big key to our success. We’ve got that longevity and familiarity with our campus, and our residents, and each other.”

The awards supplement an employee’s own funds or school loans. This year’s recipients are:

Dannica (Woeppel) Avendano, LPN. This is Dannica’s third award from the employee education program. She’s been part of our staff for more than five years. Dannica first earned her LPN certification from Hutchinson Community College. She has earned her RN certification and is now pursuing a bachelor of science in nursing degree, or BSN.

Phil Abongo, RN. Phil has started working toward a BSN degree at Wichita State University. He started as an LPN with us in 2010. In 2013, Phil earned his RN certification with the help of a scholarship from the Kansas State Nursing Board of Regents.

Kelly McGee. Kelly used her scholarship to take a summer course to become a certified medication assistant (CMA) through Hutchinson Community College. Kelly is also a certified nursing assistant.

They are among 33 Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America employees who received education awards for the 2016-17 school year. Since it was created 38 years ago by the Charles Koehn family of Koehn Construction in Newton, the assistance fund has helped more than 700 PMMA employees achieve professional degrees and certifications, from skilled nursing to finance to advanced degrees such as Master of Healthcare Leadership.

The scholarship program is a key reason employees stay with Presbyterian Manor, Kessinger said. A high retention rate means that upper level staff aren’t constantly training new people. The employees who advance their education and careers are good role models for less experienced staff. “They set good examples of what can be accomplished, because the other employees know they started from the same place,” he said.

The secret to a long marriage

Our relationship is different from our parents’ but just as lasting

By Candy Schulman for Next Avenue


Credit: Getty Images

When I mention I recently celebrated my 40th wedding anniversary, friends stare incredulously as if to say, “How is that possible?” I joke that I was a child bride in an arranged marriage, sold with a dowry to the highest bidder. The truth is I did vow “I do” at 23.

My husband, Steve, and I married young and had a child late.

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4 life lessons from Tony Bennett and other 89-year-olds

Bennett and Dick Van Dyke are going strong and happy

By Liz Fedor for Next Avenue


Caption: Tony with his son Danny, 2007 Grammy Awards

Singer Tony Bennett, at 89, isn’t resting on his laurels.

He recently released a new album, The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern. In an interview with NPR, he recalled how much he loved singing for his relatives as a boy. “It created a passion in my life that exists to this moment as I speak to you, that is stronger now at 89 than in my whole life,” Bennett said. “I still feel that I can get better somehow. And I search for it all of the time.”

Bennett’s not the only 89-year-old who is defying stereotypes of older age.  Actor Dick Van Dyke  just wrote a memoir titled Keep Moving: And Other Tips and Truths About Aging.  Queen Elizabeth continues to carry out the royal responsibilities she inherited in 1952. And Marilyn Hagerty, my friend and former colleague, continues to write regularly for the Grand Forks, N.D., Herald.

Their daily lives offer four lessons for all people of all ages:

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Fiftysomething diet: 7 trendy (and healthy?) foods

They are getting a lot of attention and may even be good for you

By Maureen Callahan for Next Avenue


Credit: Thinkstock

In the never-ending parade of new food products that make headlines every year, there are always a few that catch on and become trendy, almost fashionable. They are options that beg to be included in any healthy diet.

The question is: Are they worth bringing to the table? Put another way, will they help you age more gracefully and do they have unique nutritional benefits?

Here’s a look at seven of the trendiest edible offerings that people are talking about around the water cooler, at book clubs and in the coffee shop, along with details on what they do and don’t offer when it comes to health, nutrition and disease prevention:

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Dad’s gone but his travels to Africa still inspire me

His pictures from the other side of the world set me off on an unexpected path

By Wendy Walleigh for Next Avenue


Credit: Getty Images

Africa has had a special place in my heart ever since I was a little girl looking at my father’s World War II photos. Dad had been a 24-year-old Air Force cargo pilot in multiple countries in east, west and central Africa. And while on the continent in 1942 and ’43, he traveled to Egypt and Palestine.

He sent his photos of these locales home to my mother, who lovingly preserved them, mostly black-and-white, affixing them to the black pages of a photo album with sticky corner-frames. I liked to sit with him looking at these pictures as he told me the stories that accompanied them.

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