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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

 

 

Destination Tel Aviv: Entrepreneurship in Israel

Paula Adleman, with Jeff Rosenfeld, Ph.D.

Israel is no amateur when it comes to creating new and revolutionary products.  This powerhouse, nicknamed The Start-Up Nation, is now at the forefront of “The Business of Aging.”  VitalGo’s Total Lift Bed, developed by Israel’s Ohad Paz and Ofer Parezky, is one of the examples of this kind of revolutionary product.  VitalGo’s remarkable bed has already made life safer and easier for older people in Israel and many countries around the world.   

Upright Tilting Functionality

degreesThe Total Lift Bed (TLB) has a unique, “…upright tilting functionality” (UHS, 2015:1), which helps patients sit up, stand and start moving away from the safety of the patient’s bed.  This makes it a very therapeutic bed, thus making the TLB more than just a comfortable place to sleep. Click here to see a demonstration of Total Lift Bed.

One hospital in the US tested how the TLB worked for their patients.  They found that patients who were tilted up several times per day improved more in a shorter period of time, and more of them were able to go home than patients who were confined to bed and had traditional therapy (UHS, 2015:1). TLB’s unique functionality minimizes the risk of falling out of bed, and helps contribute to shorter hospital stays.

The Total Lift Bed is FDA registered and is used in Israel, USA, Germany, Austria, U.K, Switzerland, Italy, France, Australia and Norway. Some hospitals in the US include: The Cleveland Clinic, John Hopkins, Stanford University Hospital, Carolinas Specialty Hospital, Florida Memorial and various Veteran Affairs (VA) hospitals.

bed-recline

Seniors, whether in hospital or in their own homes, and regardless of whether they are in good health or not, have a higher risk of falling and becoming less mobile. Immobility then increases the risk of many health conditions and furthers the risk of falling and decline in quality of life.  The use of the bed   decreases this risk.

Many of the patients who have used the TLB have reported that, “This bed undoubtedly saved my life!” The hospital where the study was done found that the TLB “…improved patient-outcomes, the cost-effectiveness of providing care, and the satisfaction of patients and their families.” (UHS, bed-verticle2015:1).

Israel and The Business of Aging

Israel’s demographics make it an ideal marketplace for TLB.   In July of 2016, The Jerusalem Post estimated that 10.6 percent of Israel’s population, or 866,000 people, are now over 65.

According to a recent UN publication: “For most nations, regardless of their geographic location or developmental stage, the 80 or over age group is growing faster than any other segment of the population.”   Global aging has thus created an international marketplace for the TLB in the world’s hospitals, rehab centers, and personal residences for people who wish to “age in place” in their own homes.  VitalGo’s marketing efforts are responsive to the fact that there is already a worldwide need for the TLB, both in hospitals and at home.  

 Aging-in-Place, With Dignity

Many seniors prefer to age-in-place (at home) whenever possible. Safety concerns, aging minds and decreased strength and mobility, along with increased risk of falling (especially getting up out of bed where many falls occur) can make aging in place challenging or unsafe. The chances of falling out of a bed, a chair, or down a flight of stairs increases with age, even for the healthiest of seniors.

One of the key goals in the development of the Total Lift Bed has been to help Seniors age in place with safety and dignity.

At home, or in the hospital, the TLB does most of the lifting that caregivers (whether they be trained professionals or loved ones) would ordinarily give. The TLB does not replace the human touch, but rather, enhances the ability of the caregiver to provide the healing touches needed, without the heavy lifting that leads to caregiver burnout and risk of injury. Additionally, being able to be raised smoothly and effortlessly enhances the quality of the mobility experience, without having to worry about hurting their nurse or loved one who is helping them to get up and move.

With the push of a button, whether at home or in the hospital, TLB contributes to mobility and self-confidence.  Hence, individuals, patients and caregivers (whether professionals or loved ones) are beneficiaries of the Total Lift Bed.

References

“Israel’s Elderly Population To Double By 2035,Statistics Bureau Says”   The Jerusalem Post, July 28, 2016

Carolina’s Specialty Hospital Evaluates The Total Lift Bed In Their Mobility Program”  Universal Hospital Services, 2015:1

For more information about the Total Lift Bed, see the Vital Go site.

Contact:  Paula Adleman:   Paula@Boomersurf.com

Jeff Rosenfeld :   Rosenfej@newschool.edu

Biosketch: Paula Adelman has an eclectic background and divided her time working in sports, raising 2 wonderful sons and helping the aging population. She has a business degree, with an emphasis on entrepreneurship.  She divides her time between the US and Israel. Paula is the founder of BoomerSurf.com, an American/Israeli based tech start-up. Through BoomerSurf, she is helping Boomers and Seniors manage computer, tablet and smartphone tasks online and through It improve their connection to family, friends and community.  For more information visit: BoomerSurf.com.

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.

 

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 →

The Business Of…Assistive Listening Devices

For this week’s show, The Business of… Assistive Listening Devices for Older Consumers, we have guest Michele Ahlman, President of ClearSounds Communications, a Chicago-based privately held company that provides high-quality sound enhancing products for the boomer, senior and caregivers market. As a leading provider of niche telephone and communication products, ClearSounds is the leading manufacturer and distributor of ClearSounds branded products including amplified phones, signaling devices, TV listening systems, clocks, audio accessories and cellular products.

Learn More →

Reaching the New Assisted Living Decision Maker at CALA Fall Conference, Oct.24-26, Orange County, CA

I hope you’ll join me at the California Assisted Living Association’s (CALA) Fall Conference, Oct. 24-26 in Orange County, CA where I will be speaking in the session Reaching the New Assisted Living Decision Maker.

Date: Tuesday, October 25
Time: 3:45 – 5:15 p.m.
Where: Hyatt Regency, Orange County, CA

This session will provide key strategies to effectively communicate with strong influencers in the decision making process – the adult children/caregivers, integral to the selection and sales process. Learn how understanding the values of decision makers and trends and differences in sentiment towards Assisted Living communities can help drive your marketing strategy. Discover a messaging framework needed to engage and increase your prospect base.

The Business of…Ageless Homes for Later in Life

Jeff RosenfeldFor our second show of the season we spoke with guest Jeff Rosenfeld, co-author of the new book Unassisted Living: Ageless Homes for Later Life.

Jeff is a PhD and director of the Gerontology program and the Gerontology Center at Hofstra University. He has a long-time interest in the interplay between aging and home design.Unassisted Living: Ageless Homes for Later Life Unassisted Living is his second book in collaboration with Wid Chapman, the interior design program chair at Parsons School of Design. The book is a visual feast! I don’t think I’ve seen any book that acknowledges the spirit of t baby boomer generation and how we actually want to live as we age. On our program Jeff explains the concept.

Learn More →