Category Archives: Isolation and Depression

Alzheimer’s documentary – Alive Inside

Blog post by Mike Brunt, September 2014

I recently heard about the movie, Alive Inside, directed by Michael Rossato-Bennett.  The movie is a Alive3documentary about seniors with advanced dementia and how introducing them to music they loved in their younger days brought back youthful memories and improved quality of life for those who were being warehoused in nursing homes.  I have heard its powerful message is incredible. I recommend the movie to anyone in this business.    You can see the Alive Inside movie trailer on YouTube and learn more about the movie and see when it’s being played in our area at

How to Avoid Depression Due to Chronic Illness

Blog post by Mike Brunt

We’ve had several blog articles recently on chronic illness. This is a personal account from a blog reader about his mother’s depression due to chronic illness and  a few tips for boosting mood and helping to reclaim your loved one’s lively spirit.chronic diseases 3

My mother has struggled with diabetes for several years. It always astounds me that no matter how responsible she is with others, she puts herself and her medical care last. We’ve had many discussions about this, but when her mood drops, it’s almost as if she’s a different person entirely.

We love to shop together, but sometimes she says she’s too exhausted to visit her favorite stores. She has even quit volunteering at church and stopped going to her book club. “It’s time for someone else to have a turn,” she explained, though that seemed like an excuse rather than an answer. Depression has always been in the back of my mind, but I figured that she has a right to feel downtrodden considering all of the medical complications she has experienced.

Chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, kidney disease, and multiple sclerosis result in dramatic lifestyle changes, such as limited mobility and increased dependence on others. These illnesses can create limitations so that people like my mother can no longer engage in enjoyable activities or have hope about the future. With so many devastating changes, it’s easy to see why depression is one of the most common complications of chronic illness.

Occasionally, depression is actually a medication side effect. Also, depression can aggravate the symptoms of the illness itself, which spurs a negative cycle.

Early diagnosis and treatment of depression can reduce symptoms and decrease the risk of suicide. Therapy and medication are effective tools for battling depression. There is hope of significant improvement for your loved one. Here are a few tips for boosting mood and helping to reclaim your loved one’s lively spirit.

  • Build or nourish a support system: Isolation can exacerbate depression. Socialization helps your loved one feel like she’s not alone and boosts self-esteem. Joining activities or engaging in community may improve mood issues.
  • Maintain appropriate diet, exercise and medication:Proper nutrition and exercise can ward off many depressive symptoms. Also, check medication side effects to see if depression is listed and talk to a doctor if you feel your loved one may be affected.
  • Find the right doctor: If you don’t think your loved one’s doctor is trustworthy, search for one that will listen and adapt to patients’ needs. If you’re not sure where to turn, ask friends or family for recommendations. Also, consider contacting a therapist or psychologist for an evaluation.
  • Define success and goals: It’s important for your loved one to be reaching for an attainable goal. My mother couldn’t get out of the house to volunteer at the library, but instead of dwelling on what she used to be able to do, she writes encouraging letters to those who serve in her place. She also tries to read one book per week. Achieving something challenging yet realistic can bolster confidence and gives purpose.

For those like my mother who require extra support, non-medical in-home care services like those provided by the Home Instead Senior Care®network can help address chronic illness challenges and decrease the resultant depressive symptoms. In-home care specialists provide companionship, nutrition assistance, encouragement to engage in activities, daily living support, medication reminders and transportation to medical appointments.

Library by Mail for the Homebound and Their Caregivers

Blog Post by Mike Brunt, Franchise Owner, Home Instead Senior Care

I got an interesting piece of mail today from Washington County Cooperative Library Services. I think this is a resource that could benefit many of my clients and provide an enriching activity for my CAREGivers to facilitate for them.


This is a program for those people who are unable to visit a library and would like library materials, including books, books-on-CD, books on Playaway, and movies. These materials can enrich their daily lives, thwart depression, and open up stimulating topics of interest.

All mail costs are paid by the County, so there is no cost to the individual receiving the mail. Library materials circulate in 11″ x 14″ bags and are delivered by the postal carrier.

To set up services, call 503-648-9785 or go to


Live Training Sessions for Alzheimer’s Family Caregivers, Nov. 1, 8, and 15

Blog Post by Mike Brunt, Franchise Owner, Home Instead Senior Care



Jean Blackburn, Certified Senior Advisor

Jean is a certified senior advisor and has earned a special certificate from PCC’s Gerontology Department  in “Advanced Behavioral and Cognitive Awareness.” Jean has been a High School Teacher, VP of operations in a training seminar company, and has worked for Home Instead Senior care for about 2 years. Most importantly, Jean has been a family caregiver for 10 years for her aging mother who had Alzheimer’s disease. It was the personal experience Jean had with the care of her Mother that inspired her to be of service to other seniors and work with like-minded people. Jean is a dedicated life-long learner who enjoys spending time with her family and friends, with emphasis on her 1-yr.-old Grandson, as well as hiking, exercising, reading, volunteering with “Elders in Action,” and trying new things.


By now, many of you have heard about our free online courses for family caregivers who are taking care of loved ones with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. Now we have taken this training to the next level by offering free live workshops covering essential topics for Alzheimer’s family caregivers. Please call today to reserve your seat in this valuable educational opportunity. (503-530-1527)

The training was developed by Home Instead Senior Care in consultation with a nationwide panel of experts and will run over the course of 3 weeks with a 1.5 hour session each week. We will take a group of family caregivers through the courses sequentially as each course builds on the previous one.


Hearthstone at Murrayhill
12520 Southwest Hart Road, Beaverton, OR 97008




Date: Thursday, November 1, 9-10:30 a.m. (Free Continental Breakfast)


  • Learn to recognize the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.
  • Discover how Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are diagnosed.
  • Understand more about the behaviors that can be caused by the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.



  • Discover how “Capture Life’s Journey” can help you and others provide the best care for your loved one.
  • Learn techniques to encourage your loved one to share their stories and memories.
  • Become familiar with the format of the Life Journal and how to record information about your loved one’s past.
  • Find out how to use the Life Journal in partnership with professional caregivers.


Date: Thursday, November 8, 9-10:30 a.m. (Free Continental Breakfast)


  • Learn more about the challenging behaviors that may be displayed by those with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
  • Discover techniques to help handle these behaviors.
  • Determine what techniques work best to manage different types of behaviors.


Date: Thursday, November 15, 9-10:30 a.m. (Free Continental Breakfast)


  • Learn about the benefits of staying active for a person with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.
  • Learn about three types of activities — for mind, body, and soul.
  • Discover various techniques to encourage your loved one to engage in an activity.
  • Become familiar with activities that are suitable for late stage Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia, to stimulate your loved one’s five senses.


Protect Seniors from Fraud Video Series

Blog Post by Mike Brunt and Other Portland Area Franchise Owners, Home Instead Senior Care

Mary Alexander from Home Instead Senior Care® introduces a video series on scams and fraud and how to help your senior loved one from becoming a victim.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation lists several common scams that you should watch out for. They are health care or health insurance fraud, counterfeit prescription drugs, funeral and cemetery fraud, fraudulent anti-aging products, telemarketing fraud, internet fraud, investment schemes and reverse mortgage scams.

Videos in this series:



Emotional Ups & Downs of Caregiving – Video

Blog Post by Mike Brunt and other Portland Area Franchise Owners, Home Instead Senior Care

Most caregivers said that they feel both loved and overwhelmed; many other said that they feel both frustration and appreciation. And still others feel both anxious and satisfied. Dr. Amy D’Aprix, a care giving expert says that experiencing these mixed emotions is normal. Caregiving is similar to other life events such as marriage and children that can also bring conflicting feelings.

3-Minute Video

How to Manage the Emotional Fallout of Caregiving (Printable Flyer)

Free Alzheimer’s e-Learning Courses for Family Caregivers

Blog Post by Mike Brunt, Local Owner, Home Instead Senior Care
on behalf of all Portland Area Home Instead Locations

This series of online training courses will give you basic information about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. More importantly, you will gain valuable insight for providing better care for a loved one with these conditions.

At the end of the course you will be equipped with several techniques to help improve both your and your loved one’s quality of life.

Each class can be completed within 5-15 minutes. No preregistration required.

At the end of each class you can download a Class Checklist PDF.

(Below is a review from Tina Jackson, a trusted employee who has coordinated service for my clients and CAREGivers for 3.5 years.)

I just completed this course, and was very impressed by the way the information was presented.  The information was simple and clear, the graphs were informative and eye-opening, and the testimonials and interactive role-playing allow the reader to see the suggestions in action.  The maps of the houses describing different ways to redirect in different rooms of the house, or various safety hazards to consider, is again, very simple and thought provoking.  I also like how the information stresses the importance of family caregivers taking care of themselves too.

To me, the information was presented in a way that seemed thorough, but not overwhelming, and the option to be able to print a summary of each section allows the reader to be able to keep this information at their fingertips, and/or easily share it with others.

I am more and more impressed with Home Instead Senior Care as time goes on.  I do feel truly blessed to be a part of such a wonderful organization, and to truly value and believe in what we have to offer our community, and whomever else we might impact.  This is an awesome resource I am very excited about.


And Finally, here is one more screen shot from the online training.


Family Caregiver Support – 2012 Webinar Series

Blog Post by Portland-Area Offices of Home Instead Senior Care

The 2012 Family Caregiver Support Web Seminar Series provides access to information and advice from professionals experienced with issues faced by family caregivers.Caring for a senior loved one can bring a sense of fulfillment, but usually not without a few challenges as well. To help you feel a little more confident and equipped in your role as a family caregiver, the Home Instead Senior Care® network is launching the 2012 Family Caregiver Support Web Seminar Series, featuring free monthly seminars for family caregivers on a variety of essential caregiving topics.

The web seminars, hosted in cooperation with the American Society on Aging (ASA), provide tips, information and advice from the perspective of professionals who are well-versed in issues facing families caring for aging loved ones.

Please note, these Family Caregiver Webinars are not eligible for CEU credits. The CEU credit offering is only available for the webinars featured in the Professional Family Caregiver series.

Please pre-register for any Family Caregiver Webinar by the deadline of 9 PM PST the day before! for the following 2012 Senior Care Web Series. Please click each “Register Now” link below for more details of each webinar and to sign up.

Living at Home with Arthritis – Family Caregiver Webinar
Wednesday, March 21, 2012 | 10:00 AM Pacific / 11:00 AM Mountain / 12:00 PM Central / 1:00 PM Eastern. Register Now.

How to Help your Senior Manage Medications – Family Caregiver Webinar
Wednesday, April 25, 2012 | 10:00 AM Pacific / 11:00 AM Mountain / 12:00 PM Central / 1:00 PM Eastern. Register Now.

Navigating the Senior Care Maze – Family Caregiver Webinar
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 | 10:00 AM Pacific / 11:00 AM Mountain / 12:00 PM Central / 1:00 PM Eastern. Register Now.

Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s – Family Caregiver Webinar
Wednesday, June 27, 2012 | 10:00 AM Pacific / 11:00 AM Mountain / 12:00 PM Central / 1:00 PM Eastern. Register Now.

Managing the Stress of a Family Caregiver – Family Caregiver Webinar
Wednesday, July 25, 2012 | 10:00 AM Pacific / 11:00 AM Mountain / 12:00 PM Central / 1:00 PM Eastern. Register Now.

How to Balance Work and At-Home Care – Family Caregiver Webinar
Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | 10:00 AM Pacific / 11:00 AM Mountain / 12:00 PM Central / 1:00 PM Eastern. Register Now.

Senior Cognitive Issues – Family Caregiver Webinar
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 | 10:00 AM Pacific / 11:00 AM Mountain / 12:00 PM Central / 1:00 PM Eastern. Register Now.

Helping Seniors with Finances – Family Caregiver Webinar
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 | 10:00 AM Pacific / 11:00 AM Mountain / 12:00 PM Central / 1:00 PM Eastern. Register Now.

Helping Seniors with Loss of Independence – Family Caregiver Webinar
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 | 10:00 AM Pacific / 11:00 AM Mountain / 12:00 PM Central / 1:00 PM Eastern. Register Now.

Multi-Generational Living – Family Caregiver Webinar
Wednesday, December 19, 2012 | 10:00 AM Pacific / 11:00 AM Mountain / 12:00 PM Central / 1:00 PM Eastern. Register Now.

Get more information and pre-register on any webinar above. You may also Email or call 415-974-9600 if you have questions about registering for or accessing a recorded webinar.



Vitamin D for Seniors’ Bones, Joints, Hearts, Moods, and Energy Levels

Blog Post by Mike Brunt

About a year ago, my family and I discovered Cruise In Country Diner on the corner of Farmington and River Roads in Hillsboro. The place is a unique in that it has the classic car theme but it is also has a very health conscious menu including grass-fed beef, fries cooked in rice oil, and pure ice cream from a local dairy. It’s a family friendly place, and the owner is a gregarious fellow who overflows with positivity and gratitude as he chats with customers. His name is Terry Hummel, and you can’t help but to like the guy.

What I soon found out in talking to Terry is that he’s not just a restaurant owner, but he’s also a scientist and and educator. He particularly loves to talk about the health benefits of Vitamin D. On the back of my napkin, he wrote down what he thought was the best web resource for Vitamin D information Naturally, I asked him if Vitamin D has any unique benefits for seniors, and I was amazed at what I learned. I continued gathering information online, and I’d like to share some of what I found.


Vitamin D
Strengthens Bones; Limits Joint Pain, Arthritis, and Back Pain; Cuts Risk of Heart Disease; Improves Mood; Increases Energy (source for info below)


Among the many vitamin D benefits  is that it aids in the absorption of calcium, helping to form and maintain strong bones.  Vitamin D deficiency can make bones thin, brittle, soft and easily prone to fractures.  Vitamin D helps to control the movement of calcium between bone and blood, and vice versa.  It helps bone mineralization along with a number of other vitamins, minerals, and hormones of the body.

In addition, vitamin D acts like a hormone, thus regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the intestine.  Without sufficient vitamin D, our body cannot absorb calcium, rendering calcium supplements useless. Researchers have shown that consuming sufficient quantities of vitamin D  will cause  people to have a lower probability of suffering from joint pain and osteoporosis than those who don’t.

Vitamin D benefits  those who suffer from arthritis due to its ability  to slow down the effects of arthritis as well as, decrease the associated back pain felt by a lot of persons.

In recent studies researchers have discovered that among the many vitamin D benefits, cutting the risk of heart disease may be one of those benefits.  These studies have show with some certainty that taking vitamin D supplements can be a possible treatment option for anyone at risk or with a history of heart disease or who may already have a deficiency of vitamin D.

In a study conducted by the University of Amsterdam, vitamin D was was shown to have an impact on mood.  This was evident in particular with older persons participating in the study.  Older participants with lower levels of vitamin D showed an increased liklihood of depression.

In another University study concerning vitamin D benefits and older people, the nutrient was shown to increase energy and physical performance.

With all the available facts about vitamin D benefits, medical statistics reveal that in the United States of America, 75% of adults and teenagers have a vitamin D deficiency.


More About Why We Need Vitamin D (source for info below)


Be a Santa to a Senior

Touching the Lives of Seniors

Blog Posted by: Preston & Aimee Roth

A Home Instead Senior Care Santa with a senior gift recipient


In 2006, Be a Santa to a Senior volunteers visited a local nursing facility and distributed gifts to a number of residents, including one 87-year-old woman whom we’ll call Mary. She was pleased to receive her gift and thanked us profusely, but it wasn’t until we returned to give Mary another gift in 2007 that we recognized the true value of Be a Santa to a Senior.

When we entered Mary’s room for our second visit, we noticed that the only card on her bulletin board was the Be a Santa to a Senior card from the previous year. As we spoke with her caregivers we found out that our Christmas card and gift were the only items she had received throughout the year. Mary re-read the card regularly to help keep that memory alive.

This years Be a Santa to a Senior program will be our 2nd annual for our Multnomah and Clackamas Oregon Home Instead Senior Care office’s. Last year we supplied 60 gifts for financially challenged or lonely seniors and our goal for 2011 is 150 gifts! We are committed to increasing the amount of seniors we can help and touch each year! Our seniors are our nations greatest resource and in fact John A Kitzhaber, Governor of the State of Oregon has Proclaimed December 2011 to be “BE A SANTA TO A SENIOR MONTH”

Each year the Home Instead Senior Care network  throughout North America spread holiday cheer through the Be a Santa to a Senior program. The program has attracted upwards of 60,000 volunteers over the past six years distributing gifts to deserving seniors.  Since introducing the Be a Santa to a Senior program, Home Instead Senior Care has helped provide 1.2 million gifts to more than 700,000 seniors.

Click this link to see a touching video about the Be a Santa to a Senior Program

How Be a Santa to a Senior Works

Our Home Instead Senior Care office has partnered with local non-profit and community organizations to identify seniors who might not otherwise receive gifts this holiday season. We then work with local businesses and retail stores to help facilitate the purchase and distribution of gifts by placing trees and ornaments within their various locations. Each senior’s gift requests are written on a Be a Santa to a Senior tree ornament.

Sample Be a Santa to a Senior ornament/gift idea

Here’s how to help an under served senior:

  1. Find the nearest Be a Santa to a Senior tree location. Our current locations in Multnomah County Are:
  • Home Instead Senior Care – 4538 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland OR 97213
  • Hollywood Senior Center – 1820 NE 40th Ave, Portland OR 97213
  • Lloyd Athletic Club – 815 NE Halsey St, Portland OR 97232
  • Sterling Savings Bank – 4728 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland Oregon 97213
  • Wholesome Blends Coffee – 4615 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland OR 97213

Our current locations in Clackamas County Are:

  • Bullseye Coffee – 1980 Willamette Falls Dr, West Linn OR 97086
  • Sterling Savings Bank – 25529 SW Gwen Drive, Wilsonville, OR 97070
  • The Art Spot – 510 1st Street, Lake Oswego, OR 97034

2. Remove an ornament

3. Purchase the gift

4. Bring ornament and gift back to participating store and give to
store employee.

It’s that easy.

Local volunteers collect, wrap, and deliver the gifts to the seniors.

We will be collecting all gifts at the tree sites by Dec 16th with all gifts delivered by Loaves and Fishes before Christmas.

Gift Wrapping Party

We will be wrapping and packing all gifts at the Hollywood Senior Center 1820 NE 40th Ave Portland OR 97213 on December 17th from 2-4pm. We will have hot cocoa, Christmas cookies and Christmas music to get us all in the mood. We would love for anyone who is interested to come and help. Its an amazing, and touching event to say the very least.

Find a Tree today and brighten the life of a senior.

If there is not a Be a Santa to a Senior tree in your community, we encourage you to contact an organization in your community dedicated to helping seniors during the holidays.

Table Talk: Tips for Mealtime Conversations with Seniors

Blog Post by Home Instead Senior Care offices in the Portland Metro Area

Companionship through Meaningful Conversation

The shopping is done, and the meal is ready and on the table. Your work is complete, right? And now comes the fun part. You sit down to dine with an older loved one. But what is there to talk about? A senior’s world may have shrunk to the size of their four walls. Even so, mealtime conversations are an important part of the dining experience. Without that, elderly depression could be a problem.

Sharing memories is one way to get the conversation going, according to Dr. Amy D’Aprix, a life transition consultant, author, corporate speaker, facilitator, coach, and an expert in aging, retirement and caregiving. “Sharing memories is a great way to deepen your relationship with an aging relative,” D’Aprix said. “But sometimes we all need help thinking of new and meaningful things to talk about.”

That’s why D’Aprix created Caring CardsTM. This packet of playing card look-alikes features more than 50 questions on a wide range of topics that can help you engage a senior loved one in meaningful conversation and provide companionship. Featured below are two Caring Card questions and D’Aprix’s comments about ways that you can use them to start up table talk with older adults.

(For a free set of “Caring Cards” call Mike Brunt at 503-530-1527. I’ll send the cards to the first five callers.)

What are some of the most valuable things you learned from your parents?

Many of us enjoy remembering our parents and the impact they had on our lives. Whether our relationship with our parents was easy or difficult, or more likely a combination of both, most of us recognize that who we are as adults was at least partially formed by what we learned from our parents. This question gives seniors the opportunity to talk about some of the most impactful things they learned from their parents. Follow-up questions could include:

  • How did your parents teach you about “X”?
  • Why do you think it was important to your parents that you learned “X”?
  • Do you think they learned “X” from their parents?

For example, if the senior mentions the “importance of hard work” as something valuable they learned from their parents, you could ask whether their parents worked hard and in what ways. You could ask if their parents required them to work hard as a child. You could also ask if their parents had to work hard as kids and if their grandparents taught them it was important to work hard. This question could lead to many questions about how much time was spent working versus leisure time, and whether the parents thought people who didn’t work hard were lazy.

What was a major turning point in your life and how did it affect you?

As Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backward, but must be lived forward.” By the time they have reached their senior years, many older adults have had numerous turning points. Reminiscing about these turning points allows seniors to make sense of their lives and their choices, and to gain peace of mind now. Natural follow-up questions include exploring more fully one or more of the turning points the person mentions and asking more details about the importance of that turning point in their lives and how they felt after taking the particular path they took.


Other questions include asking whether they would take that particular path again knowing what they now know and how they thought their lives might have turned out differently if they had taken a different route. When exploring this topic, it is important to be sensitive to whether a turning point was emotionally difficult or had outcomes that were not easy. Allow the senior to reveal only as much as they are comfortable revealing without pushing too hard or probing beyond his or her comfort zone.


The Future of Technology in Senior Care by Intel and GE

The Future of Technology in Senior Care

Byline: Shannon McIntyre, Communications Manager, Intel-GE Care Innovations


Today, we stand at the precipice of opportunity.  We have spent centuries treating people’s health only at times of crisis, relying exclusively on hospitals and clinics to manage care, excluding family caregivers from the heart of healthcare coordination where they belong.  We have ignored the importance that wellness and social connectivity can play in keeping a population healthy and happy.  We have denied the role that homes and communities can – and should – play in our overall healthcare system.


There are numerous studies out there that reveal the importance of keeping older adults connected with friends and loved ones.  According to the Public Library of Science Medicine, loneliness, as a health risk factor, is twice as detrimental as being obese, and equal to the risk of smoking cigarettes and alcoholism.[1] Less frequent participation in social activities is associated with a more rapid rate of motor decline in old age.[2] And over an average of five years, seniors who were the most socially active experienced only one-fourth the rate of cognitive decline compared to those with the lowest levels of social activity.[3]


Technology should be harnessed to give people confidence to live independently, wherever they want to call home.  It has the potential to connect millions of people and build relationships that never could have been made before.  We see this already through well-established technology systems such as Facebook, Skype, YouTube, Twitter, and dozens more – yet little emphasis has been made on how similar programs can help seniors overcome the loneliness and isolation that so many of them experience.


One example of a solution that was developed specifically to address this need is Intel-GE Care Innovations™ Connect, a new solution from the joint venture between GE and Intel Corporation.  Care Innovations™ Connect is a new wellness communications tool and social networking hub designed to address social isolation in older adults.  It includes an easy-to-use digital device for the senior’s residence that offers wellness surveys that communicate back to professional caregivers, brain fitness games (e.g. trivia game, card matching game), medication compliance reminders, residential community information, and simple social networking tools.


Connect is based on a decade of senior focused research and has been rigorously user tested with seniors and caregivers.  For seniors, personalization, a friendly touch screen with large icons and text helps them quickly integrate Connect into their daily routines.  The system also includes an online interface for the professional caregiver to securely access their residents’ wellness data, enabling them to respond immediately to issues.


Care Innovations also offers a variety of other tools to help seniors live independently: the Care Innovations™ Guide, a next-generation remote health management solution that connects patients and healthcare professionals; GE QuietCare®, an advanced motion sensor technology that learns the daily living patterns of senior community residents; and the Intel® Reader, a mobile device that transforms printed text to the spoken word for those with reading-based disabilities or impaired vision.


At the heart of all these initiatives is the importance of supporting a spectrum of healthy living from wellness and independence on-the-go to managing serious chronic illnesses.  Aging must be viewed in a more positive light, and we have the responsibility to support new innovations and solutions that can help support these great generations.


Copyright ©2011 Intel-GE Care Innovations LLC. All rights reserved.  Care Innovations and the Care Innovations logo are trademarks of Intel-GE Care Innovations LLC in the United States and other countries. QuietCare is a registered trademark of Intel-GE Care Innovations LLC.  Intel and the Intel corporate logo are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the United States and other countries, used under license.  GE and the GE Monogram are trademarks of General Electric Company in the United States and other countries, used under license.  *All other third-party trademarks are the properties of their respective owners.  Any use of the trademarks of Intel-GE Care Innovations LLC (and its related companies) is prohibited without express written permission.

[3] Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society (


Senior Nutrition and Mealtime – Video

Blog Post by Home Instead Senior Care offices in the Portland Metro Area

In this video, the first of a five-part series, Certified Senior Advisor Mary Alexander, from Home Instead Senior Care®, discusses senior nutrition and the benefits of mealtime companionship. This series emphasizes important nutritional considerations for seniors, highlights some of the challenges seniors face when trying to maintain a healthy diet, and suggests ways to make mealtime more enjoyable.


The U-Bend of Life, Why People Get Happier As They Get Older

Post by Mike Brunt
Source: The Economist, December 18, 2010

The U-bend of life: Why, beyond middle age, people get happier as they get older


ASK people how they feel about getting older, and they will probably reply in the same vein as Maurice Chevalier: “Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.” Stiffening joints, weakening muscles, fading eyesight and the clouding of memory, coupled with the modern world’s careless contempt for the old, seem a fearful prospect—better than death, perhaps, but not much. Yet mankind is wrong to dread ageing. Life is not a long slow decline from sunlit uplands towards the valley of death. It is, rather, a U-bend.

Link to full article

Helping Seniors Fight the Holiday Blues

Blog Post by Mike Brunt

Helping Seniors Fight the Holiday Blues

The holidays are often synonymous with joyous occasions of family and friends. Not so, though, for seniors who can no longer do the things they’ve always enjoyed.

It is normal to feel subdued, reflective and sad in the face of these losses and changes, according to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation. “But family members or friends may notice that a senior is experiencing the blues for a long time and that what they may have thought was simple sadness is actually a serious case of depression,” said Kate McDuffie of the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation. 

According to the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation, some major factors contributing to holiday depression in the elderly are financial limitations, loss of independence, being alone or separated from loved ones, failing eyesight (and lessening of the ability to write or read holiday correspondence), and loss of mobility and/or the inability to get to religious services.

The holidays – when families are all together – are an opportune time to observe an older loved one for warning signs of depression.  Seek help for your loved one if you observe the following signs, from the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Withdrawal from regular social activities
  • Slowed thinking or response
  • Lack of energy or interest in things that were once enjoyable
  • Excessive worry about finances or health
  • Frequent tearfulness
  • Feelings of worthlessness or helplessness
  • Weight changes


From my experience, it’s the small things that make a difference for lonely seniors during the holidays. Christmas carolers at the door, a thoughtful card, a small gift…each of these tokens helps the senior to know that he or she has not been forgotten.

Each year around the holidays, my Home Instead Senior Care office conducts a program called “Be a Santa for a Senior.” We collect gifts from the community for lonely or homebound seniors, and see that the gifts are hand delivered to the seniors in need. Seeing the difference this makes for these seniors has been very touching and really draws the mind to the true meaning of Christmas. If you’d like to be a part of the “Be a Santa to a Senior” service project this year, please give me a call at 503-530-1527.

When Too Much Stuff Becomes a Household Hazard

Blog Post by Home Instead Senior Care offices in the Portland Metro Area

Breaking Point – When Too Much Stuff Becomes a Household Hazard

Those of us who spend any amount of time with seniors in their private homes or apartments know that most seniors find comfort in their familiar surroundings and treasured possessions. Although there is generally a natural tendency to accumulate things over a long period of time, seniors who have an especially hard time parting with their “stuff” can put themselves and their homes at risk.

“A lifetime accumulation of belongings combined with an influx of daily junk mail, bills, newspapers and magazines can quickly overwhelm seniors who are struggling physically, mentally, or emotionally,” said Paul Hogan, CEO and Co-Founder of the Home Instead Senior Care network.

The risks of overcluttered homes are many including slipping on loose papers, the threat of fire, and health effects of mold and mildew. I have been in the home of a senior who collected free food items that were donated to her local senior center. Her cupboards, counters, and multiple refrigerators and freezers were at maximum capacity and she had actually started stacking food on the floors. This kind of hoarding is obviously not a part of normal aging, but sometimes, the line between normal accumulation and pathological hoarding is hard to define.

Home Instead Senior Care has developed a public information campaign to address the problem of clutter creep. I really like the information because it goes beyond the idea of “just needing to clean up” and addresses the emotional attachments to things and the inability to organize that many seniors experience. Many times seniors’ objects have multi-generational significance to them and even help to tell their life stories. They can feel a strong responsibility to carry on the tradition and bequeath their things to others.

The web site for this public information campaign is called Breaking Point: Decoding the Problem of Seniors and Hoarding. Here you will find relevant and useful resources including the following:

  • “10 Reasons Seniors Hang On To Stuff”
  • “If Your Senior Won’t Let Go…”
  • “A Caregiver’s Guide to Spot Clutter Creep”

    Also, here is a link to a recent article in the New York Times about this topic.