The Story of a Life Time, My Last Soundtrack

An E-Legacy

Today, you’d be hard-pressed not to find traces of someone on the internet.  People will share just about everything with the world allowing each of us a brief glimpse into their life. I’ve often wondered what happens to these pages if the person who owned them passes away. Would the last post or image they share reflect how they would want to be remembered?

What if there was a place that allowed us to record our own story? Not by the everyday musings of our social media pages, but rather by a space designed for us to share our e-legacy with our friends and loved ones our favorite songs, write our most meaningful memories, or display our precious photos. A place that we could feel confident that if we were to pass away the story of our time here on earth would be written by none other than ourselves.

My Last Soundtrack (MLS) has done just this.  Through their innovative and thoughtful lens, My Last Soundtrack has created a safe and welcoming space for anyone wanting to share their story, leave a legacy, or give the gift of collective memories to family and loved ones.

#Disrupters

Founders Carl Hammerdorfer and Joe Cannon began MLS as an opportunity to personalize the music played at our funerals or memorials. Since its conception, however, it has grown into so much more. And through a new lens of the dying process created an opportunity for family and loved ones to better prepare themselves for the end of life.

Last week I had the exciting opportunity to speak with Sue Kemple, the CEO of MLS, and Ally Cannon, Director of Marketing, to learn more about the site and the goals and solutions it seeks to offer the field of aging. Having already written a book on her own experience with grief and intrigued by the idea of applying digital solutions for individuals to cope with death and grieving, Sue saw an opportunity to expand the scope of MLS to individuals on Hospice. Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 1.01.58 PM.pngA welcoming and customizable platform to share our story, MLS also becomes a tool, which will allow end of life conversations to occur more organically. MLS is committed to the idea of living well, dying better, and being remembered the right way. Their platform disrupts sterile conversations we have around the dying process and creates a gateway for people to better prepare for their advance directives in the comforts of home with close family and friends.

My Last Soundtrack

In addition to connecting with Sue and Ally, I was able to create my own Last Soundtrack!  I was pleasantly surprised about how easy the site was to use and customize. And the end result was a beautiful design, which I can continue to add and change as needed! The best part is I can also share with those closest to me who I think would appreciate such a personal gift.

 

 

As I was customizing my own site, I couldn’t help but think of what a great tool this could be for family caregivers caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s.  In Nursing Homes, the Activities Department is often required to conduct an assessment on a new resident’s likes and dislikes.  It becomes a helpful tool if and when the same resident is no longer able to express their interest we have a record and can quickly adapt activities to their past preferences.

An MLS site has the fantastic potential to allow families to collect their loved one’s favorite songs, their hobbies, or even memories and use them as reminiscing activities while providing future care.

Dying Better 

No matter what stage of life you are in My Last Soundtrack is a unique and fun way to tell your life story. However, through the lens of aging, MLS has created a space where we can forget about the concerns and fears we hold towards dying and refocus our attention on what matters: the life we have led, the music we loved, and the people we have been blessed with to share the journey.

To learn more about My Last Soundtrack and to create your own site check out www.mylastsoundtrack.com. You can also follow them on Facebook and on Twitter.

 

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Look for their logo Ed The Raven

 

The Power of Podcasts

Guest Post Author: Andrea Wurster | The Memory Muse

Trends show that older adults are becoming more and more ‘tech savvy’! In fact, plenty of older adults are using iPhones and iPads as they are perceived as simple and ‘clean.’ A large body of research now understands what the technology needs of older adults are, as well as how they should be best addressed. Universities and teaching hospitals are offering courses on iPads and smartphones; as the population continues to age, tech will be increasingly applied to aging processes and care! Not to fear for we are here!

I recently spoke with a lovely couple from my community. Paul, newly diagnosed with dementia, published a number of best-selling Canadian novels. His wife, Beverly—now transitioning into ‘caregiver’—fears that her husband may be bored as he is no longer able to read. Beverly still enjoys her morning paper and afternoon novel but feels guilt when Paul ‘just sits’ as she reads. This guilt is exacerbated as reading was an activity they enjoyed together.   

As a social gerontologist, I immediately mentioned the effectiveness of music and the calming effect of photographs. As the lovely couple mentioned that they have tried (and tired) both options, my mind trailed off onto the topic of podcasts. Podcasts are like radio shows, pre-recorded for your listening pleasure. I commute for almost seven hours every week, and I myself am tired of music. Recently, I have been listening to podcasts (thank you, Electric Runway)! The time I spend listening is not only entertaining, but keeps me up-to-date with current technology, events, and politics.

 

 

 

The Podcasts App is featured on all iPads and iPhones. This app features podcasts for any and every topic—from history to fashion, and cooking to dogs. The purple icon opens a whole world of information that only requires your ears! Podcasts last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour… And beyond! I, therefore, explained that there has to be a history podcast applicable to his interests. You can search a keyword and download to listen.

To support listening, I recommend large headphones that comfortably fit over the ear like the white ones featured on this post (Walmart, $11.15). iPhones and iPads come with complimentary ‘ear pods.’ These ear pods, however, are unusable (and uncomfortable) with hearing aids.

 

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We cannot fear technology, nor aging and dementia. We must continue to be resilient, adapt, and learn how to best deal with our realities. It is evident that caregivers require more support, resources, and assistance. Together we can revolutionize the way we age, and the way in which we perceive aging.


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Andrea is a second year Masters of Science Student (in eHealth) at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Throughout her undergrad, Andrea worked in Therapeutic Recreation in long-term care. Andrea’s research focus surrounds technology needs for informal/formal caregivers, as well as technology needs in long-term care. Andrea’s mission is to normalize aging through fashion, technology, and awareness.

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MemoryMuse

Blog: memorymuseblog.wordpress.com

The Use of Robotics in Long-term care Facilities: A Step Into the Future?

 

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Robot and Frank (Click for Movie Trailor)

The use of robotics and other AI Technology in Long Term Care is a highly debated topic, and there are fair arguments both for and against. Their use, however, seeks to solve a  grave concern in the field.  The number of adults 65+ by 2050 is expected to rise to 88 million. At such large numbers, resources are essential to the ability to provide and care for our older populations.

The greatest resource is the caregivers themselves, and currently, there is a significant shortage in the United States. Recruitment of employees is hampered by negative stereotypes of nursing homes and the often deeply emotional realities of caring for someone at the end of their life.

The most common reason people choose to work in long-term care is that they had a good relationship with an older adult (commonly a grandparent) at some point in their lives. The lack of senior caregivers will become a national endemic if the issue is not addressed.

There are several different types of robotics for senior care, but the most commonly used are robotic caregivers, social robots, and teleconferencing robots.  Their use has grown increasingly more popular over the years and can now be found in Japan, throughout Europe, and the US.  As the number of older adults increases, their use could be the solution we are looking for.  But can a robot actually replace the human connection and socialization we as humans need?

The Pros and Cons of Robotics in LTC

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Robotic Caregivers

Designed and developed in Japan, the Robobear is a transfer and lift machine for people who have difficulties getting up and moving on their own.  Traditionally, this is a job for Certified Nursing Assistants who assist in lifting and transferring individuals from the bed to their wheelchair or from the wheelchair to the bathroom.

Nowadays, there are Hoyer lifts and sit to stand lifts which help take some of the strenuous burdens off of the caregiver, but they are still in the room and able to talk or calm a resident during the transfer process.

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The Robobear (as pictured above) is designed to make this process a bit less scary and jarring for seniors. However, the idea that a cute smiling bear is more inviting and more receptive to seniors is a bit unfounded, but it does offer a friendly alternative to the more sterile machine options on the market today. In their use, we should keep in mind the potential for confusion they may cause our residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Prototypes of humanoid robots are still being developed.  And one day we may find that robots that look like humans could replace our caregiving staff.  Although this still seems like an idea of science fiction, Carebots are already developed and on the market and their use is specifically targeted to assist the elderly.

Social Robots

Social robots are developed to simulate real pets.  Most common are dog and cat robots as seen in the video below.  The company Hasbro’s found that their children’s toys were being used by a growing number of seniors and decided to create a line especially for older adults living in nursing homes.

 

These “pets” act and respond just as a real cat or dog would.  The cats will purr and vibrate while being pet and meow in response to being held.  Since pets aren’t allowed in many long-term care settings, this type of companionship is a welcome replacement.  And especially for those living with Dementia or Alzheimer’s can offer a sense of comfort and purpose.

Hasbro is not the first to unroll a line of robotic pet companions.  Japan has a line that was established in 2003, which was purposefully designed as a therapeutic intervention for seniors.  Unfortunately, this line is a bit pricey and not as easily obtained whereas Hasbro’s Lifelike pets are much more reasonable at about $100.00.

Robotic Conferencing

The Cruciferous Vegetable Amplification episode of the Big Bang Theory parodies the idea of sending a virtual self out into the world through video conferencing. Funny or extreme as the concept of this was, this type of technology is available and for the medical field has great potential to allow physicians to be two places at once.

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Image Source: CBS Network

One such technology is the GiraffPlus, already on the market and providing In-Home help care to the elderly throughout Europe.  The GiraffPlus is a vacuum cleaner, monitoring system, environment evaluator, and a telehealth conduit for seniors living in their home.

As the number of older adults remain in their home, these types of technologies make aging in place a sustainable living option even as care needs change. Alternatively, however, does the lack of a personal visit to the doctors or the now “traditional” form of health care offer something more than a teleconference can offer? Particularly to a more vulnerable population for isolation.

Can a robot console the way a human can?

Seven million Americans over the age of 65 suffer from depression. This number will continue to increase over the next several years, but without enough caregivers, it’s hard to care for the emotional and physical needs of our older adults.

And as many movie and TV representations show us, although some robotics are advanced with many capabilities true human connection is not one of them. Although robotics have become increasingly popular throughout Europe, Japan, and the US one French non-profit the Society of Saint-Vincent-De-Paul
 created a short clip that portrays the ill-effects this lack of human console can have on an individual.

 

The Future of Long Term Care

Technology has been incorporated in nearly every field so it is no surprise that we would find a way to advance our caregiving methods. Personally, I am still on the fence when it comes to robotics specifically and maybe only sold on the cute toy kittens and a bit weary of a giant smiling bear capable of lifting a person.

As a field, we still have an opportunity to invest in real live humans to fulfill our caregiving needs.  In an earlier post, Addressing Our Caregiver Shortage through Intergenerational Programs: Introducing our Youth to Seniors Living in Long-Term Care I discuss the importance of intergenerational interventions now so that our youth will grow up wanting to care for their elders.

I would love to know what you think about the use of robotics in Long Term Care?  Is it cool, weird, innovative?  Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!!