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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Memoir of a French picnic

This is the beach, Kerfany Plage, that we walked to after the picnic lunch. The house is visible (barely) in the group of houses at upper right.

This is the beach, Kerfany Plage, that we walked to after the picnic lunch. The house is visible (barely) in the group of houses at upper right.

For our focus this month on dining, resident David Dineen shared with us a favorite memory of the food he enjoyed during his many summer visits to France.

David grilling sardines.

David grilling sardines.

Most summers from 1989 to 2006, my wife and I lived in a house we co-owned with two friends in Kersel, a small village near the ocean on the south coast of Brittany, France. We had many great late-evening meals there (sunset was at midnight on June 21 and always very late) with fresh food from the market and fish and seafood directly from the fishing boats that docked at a small port nearby.

I could be nostalgic about one of those multi-course meals; however, the memory I’d like to share is of a simple picnic lunch I prepared with the help of tour bus driver, for the students on a trip I directed many times for the Summer Language Institute from the KU

My neighbor, Monsieur Barguil, was one of the "old guys" who played boules with the students.

My neighbor, Monsieur Barguil, was one of the “old guys” who played boules with the students.

French Department. On the trip, we typically had a picnic lunch along the road, often in a pleasant setting which our efficient driver from Luxembourg found for us. This time, as a special treat, I invited everyone to a cookout at the house, where we played Boules (aka Petanque or Bocce Ball) and the students managed to converse in French with my neighbors, typical of the “old men” one always sees playing Boules.

Roby made large bowls of delicious salad with his own vinaigrette dressing and I grilled “chipos” (chipolatas, a specialty of the area, similar to but quite different from small breakfast sausage links here: much better than, in my honest opinion). We also had fresh sardines, twice the size of the canned ones you find here. It was quite a treat that you found only once a week at the local market. To grill those I had special grilling container that came with the house. To wash it all down and add to the conviviality, my neighbor, Monsieur Bellec (a typical Breton name) provided homemade cider.

After a light dessert of fruit and yogurt, we all walked through the woods to the bluff overlooking Kerfany Plage and scrambled down to the beach for a quick dip in the very cold water. The entries in the students’ diaries (which we graded after the trip) were quite interesting – and rewarding.

Resident recipes


For our October focus on dining services, we asked residents for some of their favorite recipes—to make AND to eat. Here are the ones they shared. We hope you might enjoy trying them out as well—maybe with your own twist.

Banana Bread – Hazel Nitcher

2/3 c. shortening (butter and/or margarine)

2 c. sugar

4 eggs

1 lb. bananas (4 large bananas)

2/3 c. water

3 1/3 c. flour

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs, bananas, water and vanilla. Blend in dry ingredients. Beat well. Pour into 2 greased 9×5 inch pans. Bake in oven for 65 – 75 minutes. Bake until wooden pick comes out clean.

Yield: 2 Loaves

Cranberry Pie – Hazel Nitcher

2 c. fresh cranberries (washed)

1 1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c. chopped nuts

2 eggs

1 c. flour

1/2 c. margarine

1/4 c. shortening (Crisco)

Ice Cream


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 10” pie plate. Spread 2 cups of washed fresh cranberries over the bottom. Sprinkle with 1/2 c. sugar and chopped nuts. Melt together 1/2 c. of margarine and 1/4 c shortening. Beat eggs well. Add 1 c. sugar and beat thoroughly. Add flour and melted margarine/shortening mix to egg mixture. Beat well. Pour batter over cranberries. Bake for 55 – 60 minutes. Serve topped with vanilla ice cream.

Coffee Cake – By: Shirley Yowell

2 1/2 c. instant oatmeal

1 box of yellow cake mix

3/4 c. margarine

1 jar of light strawberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together dry ingredients. Add margarine to dry ingredients. Press 1/2 of margarine and dry ingredient mix into a 9 x 13” pan (greased). Cover with jar of preserves. Then top the remaining margarine and dry ingredient mix over preserves. Bake for 25 minutes.

Refrigerator Gingerbread Muffins – Kerstin Roberts

This is a great holiday recipe because it can be made ahead of time when expecting company. Then you can bake as many as you need. Batter will provide 3-4 dozen muffins, depending on size. Will keep for one week in refrigerator. If you still have batter left, you may bake, cool and then freeze muffins.

1 c. margarine or butter

1 c. molasses

1 c. sugar

4 eggs

1 c. buttermilk

4 c. flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. ginger

1 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. allspice

¼ salt

1 c. raisins

Cream butter and sugar. Add molasses and eggs. Put soda in buttermilk, and add alternately with dry ingredients, which have been sifted together. Stir in raisins. Cover and store in the refrigerator. Bake when wanted. Keeps well.

Bake at 350˚ in greased muffin tins (or line with paper cups). 3 inch size 20-25 minutes. 2 inch size 10-12 minutes.

Austrian Scalloped Spinach – Mary Ann Strong

1 small carton of small cottage cheese

3 eggs

1 c. grated American cheese

¾ stick margarine

1 package frozen chopped spinach (grated)

3 T flour

1/8 tsp. salt

Combine cottage cheese, eggs, American cheese and margarine in mixing bowl. While frozen, grate spinach and add to the first mixture. Add salt and flour. Stir thoroughly. Place in 1 ½ quart casserole. Bake one hour in 350˚ oven. Serves 6-8.

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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