Could Nutrient-Rich Diets Lead to Improved Senior functionality?

Living a healthy life starts with a healthy diet. Although we should always be considering what we put into our bodies, seniors should be extra cautious and aware. Many processed and prepared foods come with a heavy amount of sodium and chemicals that can trigger reactions and lead to many bigger issues.

Why would sodium be bad for seniors?

Well, simply put too much sodium isn’t really good for anyone. Sodium can put a strain on the heart leading to increased blood pressure. For many seniors blood pressure is already a common issue and putting any additional strain on the heart will lower other vital body functions.

Increased sodium can also contribute to significant dehydration. What seniors really need more of in their diets is healthy fibres and green vegetables which help the body continue to hydrate and process other meats and dairy.

Greens are also full of significant vitamins and minerals that are very important to keep the mind, heart and body fully functioning. In cases where seniors experience weakness or lowered ability to comprehend, a proper diet can increase natural support of strength.
Senior Homes & LTCs are rapidly losing the ability to offer fresh produce and well-prepared meals and snacks. The idea is that if the body is fueled properly, its immunity will be strong and fight against the common deficiencies that seniors experience. With higher functionality, the quality of life for seniors can increase significantly.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that older adults with a high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish have better physical function and general health than their counterparts who consume less nutritious food.
By providing healthy options that meet important dietary restrictions will give seniors a higher chance of feeling stronger, living longer and keeping them away from the harmful triggers of depression and dysfunctionality. According to Health Line, 6% of seniors are affected by chronic depression which is brought on and increased by physical/functional limitations.

If your loved ones are experiencing a significant decrease in mobility and basic functions, consider starting with an improved diet and be sure to get in contact with a dietitian.

Seniors & Isolation – why we need to spend time with our elders!

 

Isolation and loneliness are not new when it comes to the senior demographic, but it’s not talked about enough. There are a number of factors which have contributed to a proliferation of this, especially in North America.

 

We recently came across an article which highlighted a very heartbreaking story about a 90-year old woman seeking friendship (read more here).

In this particular story, the woman reaches out to her neighbour in an attempt to find some kind of human contact by leaving a note for her neighbour. The neighbour, Marleen Brooks of Missouri, came home to this heartbreaking note from her neighbour. Her senior neighbour from down the street had mentioned that she was lonely and was looking for some friends.

It is disheartening that this elderly woman felt like she wasn’t able to approach her neighbours in a face-to-face conversation to discuss this. She may have been shy or even afraid to approach others, but this interaction shows how lonely she must have been to find human contact.

According to the Government of Canada Website, social isolation can result in reduced social skills. For example, seniors “who develop depression, social anxiety, loneliness, alcoholism, and schizophrenia tend to become socially isolated and uncomfortable around other people.”

In this particular case, the neighbour she reached out to was overjoyed that this elderly woman, Wanda, wanted to be her friend. She even went to visit her with cupcakes and they took a selfie together which she shares on her Facebook.

Wanda was ecstatic that her neighbour actually took the effort to spend meaningful time with her and says, “I hope you didn’t think I was stupid for writing you, but I had to do something. Thank you so much for coming over. I’ve lived here for 50 years and don’t know any of my neighbours.”

The lesson that was left with our team was – regardless of how busy you are, make time for others. There are people out there, including our own family members (especially the elderly) who really value a social connection with those around them. What may be a small block of time in your week may be priceless act of generosity for someone like Susan.

Senior Care Changes from the Wettlaufer Tragedy

 

For anyone who missed it, earlier this year a tragic act of misconduct was performed by a former Ontario nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer. Wettlaufer recently pleads guilty to 8 charges of killing senior citizens in her care. You can watch her full confessional here.

 

For obvious reasons, this case has been very concerning to our team and those within the retirement and long-term care industry. There have been many rumours of misconduct in the past, but nothing so extreme! This raises a number of concerns for not only the safety of our staff and providers but the residents’ needs being met with their well-being in mind.

 

In Wettlaufer’s recent plead, she mentioned that one of her patients, on the evening of their passing had “asked to be put in the death bed”. Wettlaufer insists that this is what the patient asked for and after discussing the matter with another nurse, it was decided that if this is what the patient wanted, they would comply with their wishes. The issue here was that at no point did either nurse or anyone on staff look into the written wishes of the patient (which would have been made in a better frame of mind) or with any other higher authority on staff. Wettlaufer also explains in her confession that she “didn’t intend for the patient to die, I was just angry and wanted her to stop”.

 

On August 1, 2017, it was announced through a press release from the Government of Ontario that an official Public inquiry into the safety and security of the Long-Term Care Homes System has been accepted. This inquiry will include a variety of areas of investigation and questioning into basic health and safety needs being met as well as security and reasonable treatment.

 

This inquiry will be lead by recently appointed Honourable Justice Eileen Gillese who is an experienced judge of the Ontario Court of Appeal. Justice Gillese has been asked specifically to inquire into the circumstances and systematic issues which may have contributed to the assault and death of residents who were under the care of Elizabeth Wettlaufer. This inquiry will help sort out the answers to make sure a tragedy like this never happens again.

 

As part of the mandate, Justice Gillese will review accountability measures and how they align with the objective of Long-Term Care Facilities. Justice Gillese will also provide recommendations to improve the safety and well being of residents.

 

Part of our hope with this Inquiry is to also bring attention the lack of emphasis on Senior and Long-Term care patient nutrition. In a previous post we touched on the fact that currently, Ontario prisoners receive a significantly higher nutrition budget as well as receiving fresh fruit and produce as part of their daily diet.

 

We should expect a final report, including all recommendations by July 31st, 2019.

“I am honoured to have been chosen to head this very important Inquiry dealing with matters that affect the lives of all those in long-term care homes in Ontario. My team and I will do our utmost to determine how these events could occur and to make recommendations to that the tragedies of the past are not repeated in the future.” – Eileen Gillese, Commissioner of the Inquiry into the Safety and Security of the Long-Term Care Homes System.

Fighting Against Ageism

 

Ageism is defined as prejudice or discrimination on the basis of a person’s age. When it comes to seniors, ageism can be more prominent when compared to the younger generation, nevertheless, a lot of opportunities live within the older generation that should not be overlooked. 

Technology changes on a daily basis. Even industry experts can feel overwhelmed or out of the loop when it comes to understanding the newest features and releases but it’s adapting them to the older generations which prove to be the most challenging.

 

Thomas Wellner is president and CEO of Revera Inc. and he believes “Seniors, healthier and living longer than ever before, are a growing and remarkably diverse market, as well as a highly experienced talent pool.” Wellner continues with:

“Today’s older adults also represent, somewhat ironically, a new employee demographic that businesses have yet to value. In my experience working with seniors— and I have a fair bit, given that more than 500 people over age 65 work in the company I lead, and our oldest employee, chief elder officer Hazel McCallion, is 96 — they bring enthusiasm, experience, knowledge, and loyalty to their jobs.”

Wellner raises some very interesting points in this article. Some of the exact reasons many companies and businesses overlook the senior market as candidates are the reasons they should actually be considering them. A big factor Wellner mentions is the “Knowledge and Loyalty to their jobs”. Having an employee with skills and moral values that cannot necessarily be taught in a training room can sometimes far exceed some extra training that may be required on the technology side.

 

Seniors are also excellent candidates because of their enthusiasm. Some technology based positions may involve what younger generations would consider mundane tasks, but the excitement and passion a senior possesses when honing in on new skills cannot be surpassed.

 

According to recent research, “ageism is Canada’s most tolerated form of social discrimination. It’s at the heart of every assumption we make about seniors as customers and as workers. Tackling ageism means taking a hard look at our own attitudes and organizational cultures, then taking tangible steps to address it.”

 

Since the baby boomers still consume a very large portion of our population, it would seem a complete shame to pass up offering and encouraging opportunities simply based on age and a slight gap in technological knowledge. Especially, when developing applications designed for seniors, include seniors in the feedback process as they have insights that shouldn’t be overlooked by other stakeholders.

 

For us, the seniors that we encounter in our homes have shown a great interest in exploring new opportunities and bridging the learning gap to become a more active participant in the ever-changing world around them.  The Continyou Care solution was built with the intent to help improve the experience of seniors at homes while making it a very user-friendly for them so that they understand its purpose.  Building user-friendly applications are crucial to inclusion across generations.


This article is in response to: Fighting ageism to unlock seniors’ potential in your business on the Globe and Mail

How Senior Choice in Nutrition Can Assist in Coping with Dementia

According to the Alzheimer’s society of Canada, “Nutrition can influence our risk of developing dementia and our chances of ‘living well with dementia’ if diagnosed with the disease.” Factors which play into the importance of senior nutrition are healthy brain development earlier in life, obesity in midlife, long term gradual weight loss and difficulty in maintaining regular diet.

 

Healthy Brain Development

It is really important for those who have significant cases of dementia or early onset Alzheimer’s to be cautious of the diet they have and the lifestyle they lead. Having and developing a healthy brain can assist in preventing dementia and its effects in later life. Keeping the brain strong will assist in maintaining cognizant functions.

 

Obesity in Midlife

Carrying extra and unnecessary weight can put a lot of stress on the brain and heart as well as other crucial organs which can cause them to have delays and underperformance. Part of a healthy brain is constant and healthy blood being transferred to the brain. With stress put on the heart because of extra fat, the under performance of the heart can affect the blood fluidity and therefore lower the effectiveness of the brain’s commands. Nutrition can be a significant factor in maintaining an acceptable weight for body measurements and provide less stress and inflammation around the heart and lungs.

 

Long term gradual body mass decrease.

Dementia can be developing and onset as early as 20-30 years before noticeable symptoms are detected. Part of dementia developing is a gradual (usually at least a decade) of gradual weight loss and body mass decrease. Proper nutrition will assist in keeping bones strong and the body fueled with energy as the decline becomes more rapid.

 

Maintaining a diet with dementia can be difficult

A significant aspect of Dementia is the memory loss. Remembering when you last ate or when to eat at all is not something that is easily triggered. Without proper maintenance, some dementia sufferers can go through hours or even days without eating a proper nutritious meal. Without the proper diet, lowered cognitive functions and brain stimulation can contribute to other health issues or physical delays in movement and speech.

 

ContinYou Care is really focused on making life with late life diseases as cope-able as possible. Regulating meal times and including residents of Long Term Care Facilities in the process of choosing foods may also increase their ability to consume at all. For many, taste and palette is very important to what they will and will not eat. With such a delicate disease as dementia can make a person, skipping meals due to distaste could be eliminated.

3 Reasons Why Senior Nutrition Should Matter to YOU

 
Nutrition should be something that matters in your own life, for various reasons, but it should also matter that seniors are getting or receiving proper, nutritious meals and programs. Here are 3 reasons senior nutrition should matter to you.
 

Required Medications

According to NCOA, approximately 92% of older adults have at least one chronic disease, and 77% have at least two. Four chronic diseases—heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes—cause almost two-thirds of all deaths each year. Because of these diseases and illnesses, many seniors are required to take medication on a regular basis at regulated times. Many of these medications are supposed to be taken with something in their stomachs. Providing proper nutrition is also crucial to ensuring that any of the side effects of certain medications are met with nourishing meals.
 

Lowered Immune Stability

As we all get older our immune systems begin to fight a tougher fight. Add in a few other medical complications and your body is not only fighting age but beginning to fight itself. Ensuring a proper diet, especially when most are not able to be as physically active. Maintaining a healthy immune system as a senior can also assist in preventing common colds and illness which can lead to difficult recoveries from treatments and any minor or major surgeries that may be required for them.
 

Seniors Matter Too

Just because they are the older ones in the class doesn’t mean that seniors don’t matter. As we age we also may need to rely on those around us in order to cook and shop for appropriate meals. Being in long-term care facilities can also limit the control seniors may have over the types of food they are served and when. Caring about seniors especially those closest to you means you can make sure they continue to thrive as they age.

 
ContinYou Care is dedicated to improving the user experience and meal programs in long-term care facilities. Senior healthcare and proper nutrition are our top priority.

Why Tech Companies & the Healthcare Industry CAN Go Hand-in-Hand

 

Like most tech companies, Continyou Care was founded with the idea that it would solve an issue that currently exists in the world by revolutionizing current processes via a new technology.

 

We identified a niche area where we felt we could truly make an impact for the better while also maintaining a successful for-profit business model. However, the industry we service is somewhat taboo in the tech space due to the red tape that often blocks or slows down innovative companies. The healthcare industry tends to be viewed from a skeptical and negative perspective by a majority of the innovators within the tech industry – an issue that is covered by this Fast Company article. The article points out that the healthcare industry is not an area for fast and prosperous growth – two factors that tech innovators often use to measure their success. The same can be said for the reverse, as the article points out, the health care sector has been apprehensive in the past about new tech companies getting involved in their domain due to its complexity. And this is fair enough when you take a look at the tech startups that have shot to success over the recent years, it’s almost astonishing to comprehend how quickly they would have had to build their company and processes in order to keep up with their own success. And in an industry like healthcare, where the consumers at the end of the day are real life people, often with debilitating illnesses, you can’t have companies just jump on the bandwagon for the ride to a quick profit – you need companies that actually care in order for the ‘care’ part of the healthcare industry to remain stable.

At Continyou Care, we like to believe that this is exactly the type of principle that our product and company is founded on.

The Continyou Care platform is fully intended to help revolutionize the way long-term care homes function with the end goal of providing better care for those living in them. Our tech product targets the meal ordering system – a process that has been archaic in most homes for quite some time. By integrating technology into this process residents are able to custom order their meals via the Continyou Care app on a tablet that staff bring around during the day, ensuring that all dietary needs are met. The technology also simplifies how orders make their way into the kitchen – chefs are then able to use the information they receive well in advance to ensure that the meal is cooked to order and also on time so residents are not left waiting. It might seem relatively simple when it’s broken down like this, but this is just one of many niche issues within the healthcare industry that can be improved by technology yet are often overlooked due to the negative association with slow growth and slow profit. While the growth of Continyou Care might not be exponential immediately, and the industry we’re working in is complex – every long-term care home is different from the next – we truly believe that the growth and success to be achieved in the long term will be worth it if the quality of life for residents in these homes is improved.

 

At the end of the Fast Company article, fellow healthcare entrepreneur David Vivero is quoted saying, “Start with empathy, and a desire to get it right for each individual user.” We could not agree more and encourage all aspiring tech innovators in this industry to follow the same guideline – at the end of the day, the financial success may not be as quick and the growth may not be ‘hyper’, but the long term result will be impactful for the better, for both your company and those you are trying to help.

A Response to CBC: Using Technology for the Better and Continuing to Care

 

As we enter in the New Year, it can be overwhelming to think about all of the changes that have occurred in our everyday lives over the past decade when it comes to technology. The potential negative side of this technology boom was captured in a recent CBC article, which discussed the need for the tech industry to focus on the right kind of innovation, mainly making consumers lives better and not just more convenient. At ContinYou Care we could not agree more – in fact, this is the foundation that our software and company are built upon. It’s no secret that in this not so new world of highly anticipated smartphone releases, drone delivery systems, automated ordering kiosks, and the plethora of phone and tablet applications, that the majority of tech innovators are focusing on simplifying consumers lives and hoping to deliver a more ‘convenient’ livelihood. But as the CBC questions – is convenience really the key to all of our problems? Will only focusing on this factor do our world any good? At ContinYou Care we think that the solution to a lot of issues regarding technology is that convenience needs to be one factor, and not the sole driver of the problem that technology attempts to solve.

 

The ContinYou Care platform is an innovative software system that caters to Seniors – a community of consumers that are often forgotten by the tech industry.

 
At the end of the day, ContinYou Care is meant to provide convenience and efficiency to the senior hospitality industry, namely nursing and retirement homes. You might be thinking this sounds somewhat contradictory considering what we just said about the tech industry as a whole and the driving force of convenience. However, what really sets our platform apart is the end goal of improving the care that our senior citizens receive once they become reliant on others. We believe that by focusing on the convenience and efficiency factors of the job processes of those caring for senior citizens, we’re able to help improve their quality of life overall.

 

Imagine running a restaurant where three times a day you had to serve close to one hundred patrons at a time, each with unique dietary restrictions and needs that were integral to their health. You would need to ensure all meals were delivered on time, and also continue to provide impeccable service that would make patrons want to return – it sounds chaotic and next to impossible doesn’t it? Well, this is the reality of senior care homes everywhere. Our software focuses on the meal services management aspect of the home as we realized that there was a disconnect between the care the staff wanted to provide their residents and the type of care they were actually receiving – particularly in the dining room. In homes where dining rooms are meant to sit over 100+ residents at a time, it can become complicated to ensure that each resident’s needs are met. Our platform allows residents to custom order their meal through the multi-lingual tablet application. Staff are able to come around throughout the day and have residents choose what they would like for Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner and through simple inputs residents are able to indicate what they can and cannot eat and attach this to their individual order. By having this information well in advance, the kitchen chefs are then able to anticipate these needs and prepare each meal accordingly.

By simplifying the ordering process, ContinYou Care not only makes the dining experience more convenient for staff and residents, it also improves the experience for the better.

Residents are able to have their dietary and nutrition needs met just as if they were living in their own home, and they’re also able to enjoy a meal that they prefer rather than their menu being dictated by the dining hall. As information is readily available to the kitchen and dining staff well in advance, the wait time in the dining room is also reduced and residents are able to enjoy their meal while it’s still fresh and warm.

 

As the CBC article pointed out, we know how large of an impact that technologies can have on our world and industries, and so it has never been more crucial to think about their impact holistically and really evaluate whether the change the technology will bring will be for the better. We believe that innovative platforms like ContinYou Care do have the ability to disrupt industries such as the hospitality sector – but not in a negative way. ContinYou Care allows senior care homes to keep the human factor involved and in no way eliminates the need for human interaction. Our platform allows staff to save time and deliver more effective results which consequently allows them to focus on the part of their job that really matters, the residents.

 

If you’d like to learn more about the positive benefits that our platform has had in the real world, be sure to watch this video on our success stories.

3 Ways Technology Has Improved Healthcare

 

New innovations in healthcare are more and more common with the advancements in technology. It goes without saying, technology is improving our everyday life as it is making data and tools much more accessible. The healthcare industry, in particular, has improved from the moment you feel ill to actually seeking medical attention.

In this article, we highlight some of the best advancements in technology in terms of healthcare.

 

The Internet

As the internet becomes more accessible (currently over 89% of North American’s have access to the internet), the tools available become more advanced. Instead of calling your doctor or taking a trip to the hospital, looking up your symptoms is now as easy as typing them out online (we recommend Web MD). Internet users are also investigating different methods of treatments and medicines providing them with the research and data to make a much more informed decision.

Social media is even playing a huge role in education with healthcare facilities investing in social campaigns and building awareness about common illnesses and/or tools to seek help. Some sites are even offering online chats with real nurses and doctors that provide you with guidance immediately.

The internet is providing information leaving users more empowered to research and possibilities.

 

New Machines, Medicines, and Treatments

One of the greatest developments in healthcare is the obvious improvements in machines, medicines, and treatments that have been saving lives and enhancing the chance of recovery. Improving quality of life is one of the main benefits of integrating new innovations into medicine. Medical technologies like minimally-invasive surgery, monitoring systems, and more comfortable equipment are allowing patients to spend less time in recovery and more time enjoying a healthy life with their friends and family.

 

Patient Care

Information technology has made caring for patients in healthcare facilities much more efficient. With patient history available at the tip of your finger and results being transferred immediately, healthcare workers have more data available to make a better judgment and offer better assistant.

Most healthcare professionals usually carry around a smart device (such as a phone) and are easily contacted or reached in emergency situations.


Below are some of the ways ContinYou Care improves patient care and worker efficiency:

 

Dietary And Nutrition Alerts

The most important function of our software is ensuring your staff knows exactly what your residents can and cannot eat.

 

Meal Preferences

We like to set your staff up for smiles. With controls in place to allow for simple inputs, your staff can make sure every resident gets their meal served to them exactly how they like it.

 

Reduced Wait Time

Your residents have strict routines. We understand that any departure from that can be problematic, and success involves staying as on-track as possible. Our solution ensures all residents are served quickly at every meal.

 

Multilingual Solution

We just as focused on process improvement as we are on communication improvement. In many ways, they are the same problem. Our multilingual solution ensures all staff and residents can understand, interpret and make decisions using the ContinYou Care system.


Technology has come so far and yet there is still so much room for improvement. In your opinion, what do you think the best advancement within the healthcare industry is so far? Tweet us and let us know @ContinYouCare.

Thanks for reading!

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