Feb 29, 2008

Wheeeeeeeeee!!! for Wii: Seniors take to the game

In senior centers and nursing homes across the country, seniors are taking up Wii --the interative Nintendo video game. They are hosting bowling parties -- the most popular use of the Wii, and even celebrating the world szeries with a home-run derby.

Whereas heavy real bowling balls kept many away from the sport -- as did their ability to get to the lanes -- Wii bowling offers a light "ball" and a way to exercise where they live and play. And exercise is great for both physical and mental health.

"It has energized this community beyond anything you can imagine," said Shirley Powell, 80, whose husband heads the residents association at Southampton Estates, near Philadelphia, according to a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"A lot of times, people come in here under protest," Powell explained. "Their children want them to be here. They can't live alone. And they sort of surrender to life.

"This game has brought people out," she added. "They come early and sign up so they have a good spot in the roster. It's a sense of independence. They can come and bowl. It's exciting for them. Some people think because you're 80 or 85 that you can't do anything anymore. And that is so untrue. So untrue."

Wii was the second-best-selling video-game console in America in 2007, according to a Nintendo spokesman, with nearly 6.3 million systems sold. Nintendo says 24 percent of Wii players are 50 or older.

It's also a terrific way for all the generations to play together -- and get to know one another.
Teens, especially those who don't usually visit nursing homes, can find a comfort level in visiting now that they have a common interest with so many residents.

Feb 13, 2008

Seniors, it's cold outside! What to do

In much of the country, now is the time to combat the cold. But it's a tougher chore for seniors than many other folks.

In "very young and very old people, their immune system tends to be weaker," Dr. Jorge Fleisher told the Boston Globe. Also, "when elderly individuals are exposed to the cold, they may not control their body temperature as well."

Because it's so cold, seniors often opt to stay indoors where toxins and viruses accumulate -- and increase their risk of getting sick, Fleisher said.

And then seniors don't respond as well to vaccines and treatments as adults, he said.

So what's a senior to do?
* Know the weather outside and what is predicted
* Understand that wind chill increases cold-weather risks
* Prepare for days when you are unable to go shopping or keep appointments
* Keep a stock of nonperishable foods, such as canned soup, crackers, peanut butter and dry cereal
* Store flashlights and other items that would be needed in a power outage
* Dress in multiple, dry layers of loose-fitting clothing and pairs of thick socks
* Wear long-underwear!
* Keep your face and extremities covered -- wear a scarf, hat and gloves
* Don't use space heaters, especially in the bedroom -- instead, install insulation and weather stripping

Jan 25, 2008

Designing for Seniors - Great Tips!

What will boomers and other seniors need?

The Corporate Design Foundation says that in the next 25 years, the number of people
over age 65 will more than double, and an estimated 20% of the U.S. population
will be in their so-called "golden years."

If you want to market to this growing population, consider this:

They are more design-savvy than their parents and won't settle for things that are functional
but ugly. They want sensible and sexy, practical and pretty, safe and stylish. They are the
first generation to believe that elegant, intuitive product solutions are not only possible,
they are a basic consumer right.

What can you do to appeal to seniors? Here's what the Corporate Design Foundation says:

1: Make It Equal
Designers of mass-manufactured products tend to design for the "norm," which in the U.S. is often
for able-bodied consumers about 30 years of age, around 5 foot 6 inches tall and not overweight.
Universal design takes into consideration the needs of people of all ages, sizes, and physical
and cognitive ability. If that is not possible in a single design, it presents equivalent alternatives,
like wheelchair street curb ramps.

2: Minimize Physical Effort
For a person with severe arthritis, the simple task of turning a doorknob can be painful,
which is why so many new homes incorporate lever door handles that require less range
of motion. When designing for the frail or elderly, the fatigue factor is an important consideration.
Household products that allow users to maintain a neutral body position, minimize repetitive
actions and reduce the need for sustained physical effort make performing chores more enjoyable
and comfortable.

3: Provide Adequate Size and Space
Public buildings have rules and regulations on handicapped access, something sorely lacking
in private homes. Safety-proofing a bathroom, for example, is of little use if the wheelchair
can't fit through the doorway. A key principle of universal design is making sure that
appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation and use regardless
of the user's body size, posture or mobility. That demands providing a clear line of sight from
either a seated or standing position and ample room for assistive devices.

Things to think about as we all reach our golden age.....

Jan 11, 2008

America Needs Elders: Go Green?

That's what Dr. William Thomas, an international authority on geriatrics, told several hundred social workers, nurses and other caregivers at a conference on again in Cleveland this week (October 2007).

He told them -- and all of us -- that the way society treats aging people needs to be radically altered.

"We feel the only good old person is an old person who walks, talks, thinks and acts like a young person," he said. "America needs elders." Elders supply wisdom -- insight into the problems of everyday life.

Thomas founded the Eden Alternative, a global nonprofit organization to improve the care of people who live in nursing homes. He recently developed the Green House concept, in which eight to 10 elderly live in a home with several caregivers. He believes the Green House is the middle ground between nursing homes and the currently popular alternative of aging at home.

Jan 8, 2008

Think Your Can Discount Seniors? Think Again

Start counting....

As if we needed a reminded as to how important the work Twilight Wish is doing, consider that the seniors who need to be celebrated today are only the tip of the aging iceberg.

Last fall (October 2007), the nation's first Baby Boomer filed for Social Security benefits. Kathleen "Kathy" Casey-Kirsch ling, born one second after midnight on Jan.1, 1946, will be eligible for benefits beginning in January 2008, according to The Hartford Currant. The retired seventh-grade teacher is on the leading edge of what the Social Security administration refers to as a "silver tsunami," nearly 80 million Americans born from 1946 to 1964 who will qualify for Social Security over the next two decades.

Jan 1, 2008

The sweetness and the silliness: Caroling at senior centers

It's almost cliche, to go caroling at senior centers and nursing homes during the holidays. Yet is can mean so much -- both to the residents and to the visitors.

I still get chills when I think of the tears welling up in one woman's eyes as she sang along to "Silent Night." Or the residents giggling as we faked our way through a request: "O Holy Night!"

And how happy so many were to clasp hands with energetic sixth-graders with jingling reindeer ears and glittering Santa hats! That one-on-one contact conveys, as little else can, that people really care about them. And for the kids -- what a great way to show them they can make a difference in someone's day!

My kids and I had the pleasure of joining a school group one day and singers from Twilight Wish another to visit nursing homes in Doylestown, Pa., this past December. Each time we do, we know we will come back more often.

Remember, holidays aren't the only days you can use this day-brightener -- especially in the gray days of winter. Many residents can't get out because it is too cold or icy in many parts of the country. They need you to come in!

Why not plan now for a Martin Luther King Jr. sing-in -- use patriotic songs!
Or a Valentine's Day delight -- learn a few standards, which are sure to stir great memories!

Think about it:
  • People of all ages can do it -- together.
  • You need more enthusiasm than skill.
  • It costs nothing but can be priceless.

Dec 13, 2007

Teach kids how to be generous with seniors

While many adults understand the value of gifts from the heart for seniors, what a gift you can give the seniors and the little ones in your life by encouraging kids to be thoughtful and generous, without costing money.

Here are a few ideas perfect for kids' holiday giving:

Take a nature walk with a senior and collect interesting objects on the way. Later, paste them in a collage as a present, writing or saying: Thanks for the fun walk!

Interview an elderly person about what it was like when they were young, in the service, or at another meaningful time in their life. Use a tape recorder or take notes. Draw a portrait of them or write a short biography.

Write an acrostic poem using their name, such as:

Go caroling -- especially at nursing homes or at neighbors who are lonely or housebound. Bring goodies with you to give them.

Give an award – such as “My Hero Award.” Make sure you list or draw at least three reasons they are so great!

Dec 11, 2007

Holiday Gifts for the Elderly: Thought, Love, Time

Dear Abby had a great column just in time for holiday gift-giving, remindig all of us that the last thing most seniors needs is another tie or sachet. Here's some of the great advice she shared:

One grandaughter helped her "grandmother with Christmas cards. (She had arthritis, and it was hard for her to write.) It was one of the best presents I ever gave her, and it was lots of fun for me.
I visited her, asked for the names and addresses of the people she wanted to send cards to, and wrote them all down on notebook paper. Then we went through her address book together. She had a story about everyone in the book. At Thanksgiving, I took her to the store to select cards and then addressed them and had her sign them."

Another person "went shopping at a local toy store and selected a bunch of cute items (stickers, balls, jacks, puzzles, etc.). The store generously included enough gift bags and colored tissue for each little purchase.
When I presented Aunt Jane with 10 bags of tiny gifts she could give to her great-nieces and -nephews, she was thrilled. We had a wonderful time together deciding which child would receive which toy and writing appropriate messages on the gift cards."

The best gifts needn't cost any money:

Grabbing some kids -- even teens, what warmth many of them have with older people! -- and caroling in a retirement or nursing home is a gift for all involved.

What willl you do to spread joy to seniors this season?

Nov 30, 2007

Out of the Mouths of Babes...Great Holiday Idea!

Leave it to kids to know just how to honor the elderly. The kids at McQuade Children’s Services in New Windsor, NY, formed an organization -- with president, VP and all -- and sold cider donuts to raise $120. They used the money to buy two CD players for seniors at the Elant at Newburgh nursing home, one of whom is blind.

They intend to do a fundraiser a month. What a great model for other organizations looking to see how they can grant wishes to nursing home residents near them.

Jun 29, 2007

Are You Ageist? Take this Quiz

Ronni Bennett on As Time Goes By reveals that most of us are more ageist than we think:

She writes:
David notes that rather than be troubled if our test results are less than stellar, we should ask ourselves “what we are going to do to transcend the bias so that no negative actions flow from it…
“Getting older doesn't do it,” continues David.

“I've met countless people in their 70s, 80s and older who are ageist. The battles that take place in senior housing "facilities" waged by the relatively fit against those in wheelchairs and on walkers coming into the same dining room are the result of ageism - the relatively fit rejecting those who are visibly less fit because the former associate aging with infirmity. People who wage such battles have failed to fulfill Jung's First Task of Aging.

"Incidentally, scores of non-profit organizations wanting to do good works for seniors call the communities they build for them "facilities." Is that not an ageist term? No one calls housing for younger people ‘facilities.’”

So try the test (you must have Javascript enabled) and then come back here and tell us how you did.

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Jun 13, 2007

Gratitude and honor

Katherine McIntyre muses on Gratitude after encountering a 97 year old WWII Navajo Code Talker:

Many people stopped to speak with this former code talker, and I for one was thinking about him and his impact for quite a while after seeing him. We all like to think that our contributions to the world are having a positive impact, but it's not often you encounter people who played an integral part in something that had such a large impact on the course of history.


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May 18, 2007

Holy angels -- it's a golf cart for nuns!

The Philadelphia Inquirer featured TWF on their front page today in a story called Prayer answered via a golf cart Scott Cummings and his wife went above and beyond in making this wish come true for the 56 retired nuns of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Now, frail and ailing retired nuns from the order are once again able to see the grounds of their home campus, visit family graves and enjoy the coming of spring together. Thank you everyone who helped to make this wish come true!

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May 17, 2007

Florda Chapter holds a fundraiser AND grants a wish on the same day

The weather was hot and muggy, (not untypical for Southwest Florida in May) but that did not stop anyone from having a great time at the first ever fundraiser for the Twilight Wish Foundation's FT. Myer's chapter. The event was sponsored and held at Encore Senior Village in Naples, FL and was attended by about 40 guests.

The food & wine were great in addition to excellent music that was supplied by Stu Shelton. Joni Corso, (Community Relations Coordinator) who orchestrated the entire event, went way beyond the "call of duty" in ensuring the evening would be a complete success. The decorations were elegant, and the auction baskets were fantastic with LOTS of goodies raffled off. Many people went home VERY happy with their winnings.

Helen Hunter, (Florida Regional Director for Twilight Wish Foundation) approached Joni, and the two ladies decided to put on the fundraiser to help with badly needed funding for the Florida chapter. With both Joni and Helen planning and executing this event, little was left to chance. I (Gene Petrucci) flew down to Florida to attend the event and to give a brief presentation of Twilight Wish Foundation accompanied by a 7 min. slide show. I will tell you that I was duly impressed with every aspect of the event and if this is any indication of future fundraisers in Florida, Twilight Wish is going to be able to do a LOT OF GOOD in the Sunshine state, (which also happens to have the highest percentage of people over 65 - 19% - then any other state).

Speaking of doing good things, Helen and Joni added a special bonus to the night by actually granting a wish at the same time! A women named Denise (77) wanted some dental work to correct some past mistakes by a dentist she used that left her unable to smile or even eat properly. Her wish was requested by her co-worker Jackie, and the wish was kept secret until the night of the fundraiser. Denise thought she was just accompanying Jackie to an event and was totally shocked when Jackie was asked to stand up and to say a few words. Jackie then started to talk about a remarkable woman she worked with, and all the nice things that this woman did for others. Jackie finished up by saying that this woman had a wish for new dentures and that Twilight Wish Foundation was going to make it happen. At that point, Jackie pointed to Denise and said "Surprise!". Denise was overcome and could not stop crying for a long while. Dr. Joel Shapses, DDS, offered to do the work at no charge and was also on hand for the festivities.

The generous donations by all those in attendance resulted in $1,000 raised for the Florida chapter. Joni said that she plans on making this event a yearly fundraiser for Twilight Wish Foundation and next year's will be even BIGGER!

The picture above shows Denise, (in floral print dress second from left) standing next to Jackie (directly to the left of Denise). Next to Jackie is Helen, (white skirt) and to Helen's left is Dr. Shapses (on extreme left). The other two people in the photo are co-workers of Dr Shapses.

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Apr 16, 2007

Talkin 'Bout My Generation

Introducing... The Zimmers!

"Growing old doesn't mean giving up"

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Apr 10, 2007

Twilight Wish Advocacy Roles

Sorry to say, we need funding and we were turned down for a grant from a local foundation because Twilight Wish did not demonstrate "systemwide corporate effectiveness" which according to their representative meant that we were NOT doing advocacy work and "granting wishes was a direct service" and they wouldn't fund direct services. WELL - that got me thinking about everything we are accomplishing and here are our new advocacy statements.

Twilight Wish Foundation Advocacy Statements

Twilight Wish inspires hope among the “forgotten generation.” We engage all generations from children through baby boomers to help make the wishes of older generations come true. Firsthand experiences of wish granters during the process itself perpetuates our mission into the future. We do presentations and advocate for younger generations to recognize the importance of providing thanks, remembrance and caring towards older generations through providing special shining moments.

Twilight Wish uses its media power to build awareness and affect cultural change in the way the nation cares for its elder generations. Not only do we answer the basic needs and wishes for food, clothing and shelter…we also fulfill the higher level, spiritual wishes and in the words of a 79 year old, Libby Magness, who’s wish to be in a parade was granted on Thanksgiving Day of 2006, “you keep the candle lit.” As America becomes more aware of the need for total “mind, body, spirit” health, Twilight Wish’s mission will be recognized as important as basic needs fulfillment no matter what the wish entails.

Twilight Wish garners the political attention and builds awareness of elder issues to affect policy makers. Elders are requesting to have teeth pulled, dentures, hearing aids, visual magnifiers…and this leads us to question our systems and advocate for basic common rights recognizing quality of life issues. Twilight Wish teaches the nation we need to do a better job restoring respect and creating elder dignity by individual person centered care and addressing laws that affect this care and protect the individual rights of the indigent elderly.

Twilight Wish is a resource for management of eldercare facilities to promote change in the way they operate enhancing people centered behavior and actions resulting in increased respect and dignity.

Twilight Wish is a mechanism that empowers caregivers and eldercare facility employees and creates a cultural change when they witness firsthand the respect paid to residents.