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Destination Singapore: Restoring the Joy of Eating

By Ani Grigorian, with Jeff Rosenfeld

In a single century, we have extended human lifespan by 35+ years. At the same time, technology has evolved to the point where we can now communicate instantaneously across oceans, benefit from software which coordinates care and manages health.

We have even created robots which sense emotion and even lead group exercises.   Not only are we living longer.  We are living better!

It’s no wonder that technology and innovations that serve our aging communities are such a hot-topic. The Ageing Asia Innovation Forum, hosted this year in Singapore, brings-together professionals, inventors, and problem solvers from all over the world.  During this meeting, they had the opportunity to sample a new line of food products: Health Food Matters. The founder, Grace Gan, calls it a functional food product because it is intended for people who have feeding issues.

Gregorian was one of the few environmental gerontologists in attendance at these meetings. By and large, the Forum brings designers, inventors, and product-developers together.

On exhibit was a plethora of products and designs meant to make life more comfortable, and nutritious for people with feeding issues.  In other words, people who need help feeding themselves, or who need to be fed.

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-11-06-07-pmGrace Gan, a native Singaporean, developed this line of functional food products in response to the older people in her own family. The product line is called Health Food Matters, with the subtitle, “Restoring the Joy of Eating.” It is steadily gaining popularity across Singapore, perhaps because it does make eating a more joyous and dignified experience for consumers – and their caregivers.

The original market for Health Food Matters  was older adults, and people living with a disability.  Gan at first marketed exclusively to care centers and retirement residences across Singapore.

Gan, a speech therapist by training, had spent a lot of time working with patients in Singapore’s care-centers.  She was frequently present when meals were served, and she noticed that food-preparation, serving and eating were fraught with stress and tension.

Even more important, Gan noticed that feeding was as stressful for the caregivers and wait staff, as it was for patients who were being fed.

It is familiar that the sense of taste begins to dull as people grow older, affecting the ability to taste, smell and savor food.  This is true even for people aging-in-place at home, where there is more control over what is on the menu, and how it has been prepared.   In care settings, the dulling of taste buds is compounded by loss of control over menu, and dining conditions.

To compound matters, many older adults in institutional care live with neurocognitive disorders that cause dysphagia, a nutritional disorder characterized by difficulty swallowing, malnutrition and dehydration. Malnutrition and dehydration, in turn, contributes to other conditions such as bed sores, infection and hypoglycemia.

When Grace Gan visited Singapore’s care centers, she noticed that it was common practice to thicken food with milk supplements.  The idea was that this would make institutional food more nutritious and more palatable.  But, in fact, Gan believed that the result was neither nutritious, nor palatable.  Milk supplements did not typically enhance appetite, or contribute to better health.

Gan developed Health Food Matters as a way to enhance appetite by making its functional food line taste more like familiar food, and have what professionals call, the “Mouth Feel” of eating familiar food.  In taste and texture, Health Food Matters has the taste and “Mouth Feel” of familiar food, but is much softer, and easier to eat.

Products range from porridges, side dishes, snacks and desserts to condiments and thickeners with a variety of flavors that serve different  functions. As an alternative to thickened fluids, apple ENA-charge fruit jelly for instance, supplement fiber while apricot fruit jelly supplement zinc and iron. Calcium sprinkles can be added to porridges or side dishes providing flavor, color, and extra vitamins which combat low appetite and malnutrition.

In addition to keeping patients in mind when developing functional food products, Health Food Matters has benefits for caregivers. Most important, it relieves them of many meal-related burdens: chopping and cutting food, feeding patients or assisting them when they feed themselves, and the perpetual chore of cleaning-up.

Portions tend to be small, but are densely packed with extra nutrients, proteins and calories. This achieves nutritional goals for patients, and gives caregivers an unexpected bonus. The Health Food Matters philosophy  also harmonizes with Singapore’s efficiency-driven culture:  Mealtime becomes more “Efficient.”  Less food is wasted, and less time is spent coaxing patients to eat. This resonates with local nutritionists and caregivers because Singapore is a culture which strives for efficiency.

One reason for the efficiency, is that this product-line is easily prepared. Caregivers simply submerge prepackaged food bundles in heated water. Nurses and care staff can focus on caring for residents rather than worrying about the viscosity and portion-size.

Products range from porridges, side dishes,  snacks and desserts, to condiments and thickeners with a variety of flavors that serve different functions. As an alternative to thickened fluids, apple ENA-charge fruit jelly for instance,  supplement fiber while apricot fruit jelly supplement zinc and iron.

Calcium Sprinkles, another of Gan’s innovative products, can be sprinkled over porridges or side dishes to enhance flavor, color, and nutritional value.   Caregivers tell Gan that the Calcium Sprinkles also make food look more festive and inviting.

Grace Gan believes that Health Food Matters will eventually be a welcome alternative to forced-feeding.  Thanks to this Singapore-based product, older people all over the world can one day look forward to enjoyable dining, in the company of family or friends.

Even now, local care facilities in Singapore residents report improved health outcomes  when they serve Health Care Matters, Inc. to patients and/or residents.   Caregivers also report minimal food wastage and easier clean up.  Residents enjoy Health Food Matters, Inc. that they often clean their plates.

Above all, Health Food Matters  makes mealtime into dining once again.  Health Food Matters restores dignity to breakfast, lunch, and dinner in long-term care facilities.  Eating can and should be a social experience, something which is true everywhere from Singapore to Seattle.

Singapore is considered to be a leader in applying cutting-edge, sustainable, technology to geriatrics. Technology-based interventions, such as robotics, are already making long-term care facilities more efficient.  Health Food Matters may be doing this for meals and mealtime in long-term care.

Singapore is a world leader in developing and applying technology to geriatrics. Health Food Matters has been proven to make mealtime a more efficient experience.  It may well be that this product-line can also make mealtime a more spiritual and social experience. For older people and people with disabilities. That would be the proverbial icing on the cake!

Contact:  Ani Gregorian:    animgrig@umich.edu

Jeff Rosenfeld:    Rosenfej@newschool.edu

 

 

Four Ways Your Wrong About Boomers

I am very proud to have received this great review from the National Association of Realtors for my book, The Grandparent Economy: How Boomers Are Bridging the Generation Gap. Following is the blog:

It seems everywhere you turn these days there’s some new diatribe against the generational focus of commentaries on society. It’s boomers attacking millennials attacking boomers… Heck, we even played an April Fool’s joke based on the trend a couple of weeks ago.

As someone who’s always bristled at generational stereotypes, I’m cheering those who are finally agreeing we need to stop playing the millennials vs. boomers card in the media (as no one talks about generation x anymore, that needn’t be halted of course). But as I was working on the upcoming feature for our May/June issue about how brokers are attracting the next generation of real estate pros, I found myself unable to avoid the term “millennial.”

Is your image of grandparents woefully outdated? Photo: bandini, Morguefile.

Are your ideas of grandparents woefully outdated? Photo: bandini, Morguefile.

That’s when I realized it has nothing to do with the terms; it’s the inaccurate stereotypes everyone should be finished with. And that’s why I really liked Lori K. Bitter’s The Grandparent Economy: How Baby Boomers Are Bridging the Generation Gap (Paramount Market Publishing, Inc., 2015). Not only is she seeking to help business owners and marketers better understand the boomer generation through the lens of grandparenthood using actual data, but she also busts a fair amount myths about boomers and grandparents in the process. Among them:

  1. Age and aversion to technology: Bitter says if you do an image search on grandparents in Google you’ll likely see “cartoon caricatures of couples with gray buns, sagging bellies and boobs, and canes… In reality, only 20 percent of grandparents are 75 or older.” She also points out that grandparents not only outspend other generations in traditional shopping environments, but they also “are outspending younger consumers two to one online… and they account for one in four mobile transactions.”
  2. Multi-gen housing as a temporary reaction to recession. Bitter, who was raised by her grandparents, points out that humans have been living with several generations under one roof since the beginning of civilization, and in many cultures around the world, it’s more common than it currently is in the United States. But as we become increasingly multicultural, it’s important to examine our biases and look at the facts: 2.7 million grandparents are raising small children on their own, and that doesn’t encompass the many who are sharing the task of raising children with the kids’ biological parents. She also points out that, far from being temporary, the trend will probably grow as people are living longer, and notes that grandfamilies occur in every area of the country and represent all income levels, races, and ethnicities.
  3. Midlife crises. Rather than fearing their advancing age, boomers are becoming less concerned with numbers as they mature. Bitter says this is the beginning of wisdom, or “the centered sense of the timelessness of all things.” She suggests thinking of marketing in the same way you might universal design: If you create something that can be used by anyone, it will be appreciated by everyone.
  4. The “Me Generation.” Bitter shows how the common trope of younger generations being full of themselves goes astray: All young people project that sort of bravado to a certain extent. “The images of self-entitled, self-centered, and materialistic boomers do not sit well, and the majority of those surveyed believe advertisers and reporters frequently get it wrong. From a developmental perspective self-involvement and materialism are features of a striving lifestyle typical of younger adults, which would be accurate for any generation, not just the Baby Boom.”

Though this isn’t a book specifically about real estate, Bitter includes numerous examples of housing communities that are successfully meeting the needs of this new batch of grandparents. And she clearly thinks highly of REALTOR® outreach to consumers: “Has an ad ever brought a tear to your eye? …Fast forward to the recent ads by the National Association of REALTORS® about the ‘American Dream of home ownership’ featuring a grandfather and his grandson. Mature consumers appreciate the art of a story well told.”

Now that’s a stereotype I think we can all live with.

Meg White

Meg White is the multimedia web producer for REALTOR® Magazine and administrator of the magazine’s Weekly Book Scan blog. Contact her at mwhite[at]realtors.org.

 

What is Retirement in the 21st Century – Does It Include Work?

By Gregg M. Lunceford, Doctoral Student – Case Western Reserve University

In 2011 America’s Baby Boomer’s began turning age 65 a rate of approximately 10,000 people per day[i]. Historically age 65 has been the milestone at which many people retire. Dictionary.com defines retirement as “the act of leaving one’s job, career, or occupation permanently, usually because of age”. This classic definition was more appropriate when retirement systems were created in the early 20th century to provide income for aging employees with diminishing work skills. When the Social Security Act of 1935 was drafted the average life expectancy for men and women were ages 58 and 62 respectively[ii]. By 2013 the average life expectancy for men and women in the U.S. increased to ages 76 and 81 respectively[iii].

Our increased longevity and improved health now allows for a wider range of lifestyle options therefore retirement is taking on new meaning. For many, retirement has become a career transition that includes work on different terms in the same profession, or the beginning of a new career[iv]. Work with flexible structures has led to “win-win” situation for retiring workers and employers as they recognized several benefits from working beyond retirement age. First, many individuals benefit from the socialization and feelings of accomplishment that come from work. Forty percent of individuals who completely retire from the workplace suffer from clinical depression and 6 out of 10 report a decline in health[v]. For many, work provides an outlet to continue to thrive and improve their well-being. Second, working in retirement allows many employers to maintain valuable knowledge individuals have developed over 30-40 year careers. Such individuals are often valuable mentors and can assist with succession planning and the training of younger employees in the workforce. Finally, Baby Boomers represent the largest cohort in the workplace. The complete exit of all them from the workforce at age 65 has the potential to create a human resource gap and limit overall productivity. The retention of Baby Boomers may help many organizations improve their productivity and become more competitive.

Given the overall benefits, it is important that society better understand what factors may predict an individual’s intent to work in retirement. In 2015, a study was conducted on retirement work intention[vi]. In the study 227 working individuals, of which 93% were age 50 or older, were surveyed to see what factors contributed to their decision to work in retirement. Our research showed that a person’s confidence in their ability, willingness to be adaptable and belief that they will have meaningful opportunities for work in retirement were all predictors of their intent to work in retirement.

Retirement has evolved and no longer means the complete exit from the workforce. Work with flexible options is becoming a rewarding lifestyle option for many retirees. Careful reflection on what activities will provide happiness and fulfilment should be considered in the retirement planning process and may lead to greater success in retirement.

[i] Synder, M. 2010, December 30. In 2011 The baby boomers start to turn 65: 16 statistics about the coming retirement crisis that will drop your jaw. End of The American Dream [online].

[ii] http://www.demog.berkeley.edu/~andrew/1918/figure2.html

[iii] http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus14.pdf#016

[iv] Kim, J. E., & Moen, P. 2001, June 3. Is retirement good or bad for subjective well being. Current Directions in Psychologicial Science, 10: 83–86.

[v] Sahlgren, G. H. 2013. Work longer, live healthier: The relationship between economic activity, health and government policy. Institute of Economic Affairs: Discussion Paper #46

[vi] Lunceford, G. M. (2016, January). Retirement Values: What Factors Influence the Decision to Work in Retirement. Unpublished Doctoral Study at Case Western Reserve University . Cleveland, OH.

Unexpectedkindness is themost powerful,least costly, andmost underratedagent of humanchange

Gregg Lunceford, CFP® is a 24 year veteran in the financial services industry. Mr. Lunceford specializes in wealth management and works with clients on financial, estate and retirement planning issues. He currently, is a doctoral student at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH, and is studying how individuals make career transitions to retirement. Mr. Lunceford holds a MBA from Washington University in St. Louis, and a BBA from Loyola University of Chicago.

Email: gml56@case.edu

 

 

 

 

 

13th ANNUAL WHAT’S NEXT BOOMER SUMMIT COMES TO THE NATION’S CAPITAL , MARCH 23, 2016

boomerlogo
Nation’s Leading Conference Brings Together Boomer Marketing Experts and Industry Leaders to Focus on “Seizing the Opportunity of the Longevity Economy”

Washington, D.C. plays host to the 2016 What’s Next Boomer Business Summit, the nation’s leading annual conference for the boomer and senior markets. Taking place on Wednesday, March 23rd at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, the upcoming summit shines a spotlight on “Seizing the Opportunity of the Longevity Economy” and includes a prestigious lineup of speakers, sessions, and exhibitors. Learn More →

Q & A with Lori Bitter now live at seniorhousingnet.com


Baby boomers are changing the definition of aging in America. Lori Bitter, a consultant who specializes in engaging with mature consumers at The Business of Aging, delves into the changes in American households and their broader social effect in her new book, “The Grandparent Economy.” She answered some questions for SeniorHousingNet.com on grandparenting, the golden years and deciding where to live. Learn More →

Lori Bitter Featured in Forbes Magazine

In A Brutal Economy, Boomers Rewrite The Next Chapter


11/16/2011
(This story appears in the Dec. 5, 2011 issue of Forbes.)

Two years ago, on her 50th birthday, Lori Bitter got fired from her job at JWT, a subsidiary of WPP, the world’s largest ad agency. Nothing personal, mind you, but JWT had decided to eliminate JWT Boom, the unit she ran focused on marketing to mature consumers. She spent that weekend with her husband, on a long-planned birthday jaunt to Sedona, Ariz. “I hung out in the red rocks and pondered my existence,” she says.

The pondering didn’t last long…

Read the full article online at Forbes. Print article available on December 5.

October IMMN Webinar: Retirement in Hard Times

Date: Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Time: 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM (Central Time)
Speaker: Mark Miller, retirement journalist and author of The Hard Times Guide to Retirement Security: Practical Strategies for Money, Work and Living.
Registration: click here
Cost: free for members; $50 for non-members Fee waived for this webinar!
About the webinar: The huge American baby boom generation is entering retirement just as the economy has pivoted in a direction most didn’t anticipate. The housing crash, high jobless rate, faltering entitlement programs and volatile stock markets have created new challenges for a generation that had been somewhat blasé in its approach to retirement planning in the pre-crash days. Now, Boomers are struggling to adjust to what is shaping up as a prolonged period of economic challenge. Join us as retirement journalist and author Mark Miller discusses his book, The Hard Times Guide to Retirement Security: Practical Strategies for Money, Work and Living. He’ll outline the key trends affecting Boomers’ personal finances, career and lifestyle trends.

Creativity in Old Age and theDeath of Gene Cohen

When I started managing the Boomer Summit for JWT BOOM, one of my first aging heroes was Dr. Gene Cohen. I read The Mature Mind and his bio. He was a thought leader in the aging of the brain. I don’t know what I expected when I met him the first time as he was keynoting our event. Perhaps an Ivy League scientist; a quasi politician / aging activist; an author selling a book. At any rate, he was not who I expected. He was so much more. With all due respect he was a cross between a brilliant scientist and Puck; smart, impish and impossibly hard to ignore. His body of knowledge on how the brain ages and what is possible in later life has been a rallying cry for seniors, business and technology.

I saw Harry (Rick) Moody’s presentation on creativity late in life at a presentation at Willow Valley Retirement Community and had long been fascinated with this notion of artistic self–actualization. I was able to review Gene’s book on late life creativity not long after this. I shared with Gene at our last conference that my Grandmother, now 96, began to draw in earnest in her 80’s. She entered her first art show and won the coveted Blue Ribbon in her late 80’s. He was delighted by her story.

What impresses me now, at his passing, is that Dr. Cohen lived his story. He was incredibly productive late in life—though his life was far too short. And, asserting his belief in “use it or lose it”, he started a company that created board games for people as they age. It defines his perspective and beliefs. Visit: www.genco-games.com.

The field of aging needs more heroes like Gene Cohen.

Exploritas Is the New Program Name for Elderhostel!

Exploritas is the new name chosen for the very successful Elderhostel program. The program offers nearly 8,000 educational tours in every state and over 90 countries. The Elderhostel program has been the not-for-profit leader in educational travel since 1975, and has effectively targeted seniors who value in-depth, engaging travel experiences. Read more from President James Moses.

We have learned over many years of experience that naming is a tricky business. First, it is hard to find a great name that isn’t already in use, with intrinsic meaning, that is memorable to the target consumer. And like any creative endeavor, naming is subjective. Like many organizations (AARP included) Elderhostel had the challenge of moving away from a name that means “old” to something that will resonate with the large Boomer demographic.

The new name has great brand connotations – it is smart, vibrant and says more about the program than “elderhostel” did. But change is hard. Older consumers have very few premium quality product and service offerings that are targeted directly to them. And so there has been backlash – not about the name per se, but what it might mean to program. Older consumers are concerned that programs once dedicated to their style and pace of travel and learning will be overrun by younger consumers who will change the brand experience. Clearly Elderhostel has done an excellent job of defining their brand experience.

James Moses has used the new web site to address these concerns upfront. “Elderhostel has been, and Exploritas will continue to be, a program created for and attractive to older, primarily retired adults. . . Before 1975, older adults had very few organized ways to learn, grow, and experience adventure. When Elderhostel was founded, it was exclusively an organization for adults 60 and over. It was something special, almost a rite of passage, because it provided opportunities that weren’t previously available. Later the age limit was changed to 55, and this change had no impact on the average age of participants. When we launched Road Scholar in 2004, those programs had no age limit (other than the requirement of being legally an adult), yet the average age of participants was still over 60. For years we’ve allowed, even encouraged, people over 55 to bring along their younger spouse or partner, or for that matter, their adult children. . . we all need to remember and remind others that there is a huge difference between “actively seeking” and “not turning away.” Our goal as we relax the 55 age limit is not to change the atmosphere of our programs, but to adopt an open, welcoming posture. We don’t want to turn away any adult who has a genuine thirst for learning, affiliation and meaning, and I believe that anyone who looks beyond the sound bite will agree that this is our proper position and the right decision.”

Very well said, and certainly in the spirit of ageless marketing. Read more at: www.exploritas.org.

From Parenthood to Grandparenthood: Baby Boomers

Just read this great article about Baby Boomers and retirement from the Examiner. It has some eye-opening data and information as Baby Boomers continue to gray:

As Baby Boomers age and become grandparents themselves, Grandparents Day is taking on a whole new symbolic meaning of how we age, how we parent and, ultimately, how we grandparent.

According to data from Grandparents.com, 54 percent of today’s grandparents are Baby Boomers. Almost 38 million grandparents are younger than 65 years old. To keep this in perspective, remember there are about 78 million Baby Boomers.

That’s a lot of grandparents and prospective grandmommies and daddies out there. To read the rest of the article, go to Examiner.com