Leading indicators index rises in April
Friday, May 17th, 2013
WASHINGTON (AP) — A measure of the U.S. economy’s future health rose in solidly in April, buoyed by a sharp rise in applications to build new homes and apartments.
The Conference Board says its index of leading indicators increased 0.6% last month to a reading of 95. That followed a 0.2% decline in March.
The index is intended to signal economic conditions three to six months out.
Conference Board economist Ken Goldstein said the index is 3.5% higher at an annual rate than it was six months ago, suggesting expansion for the economy. He said the biggest risk at the moment is the drag from cuts in federal spending.
Coastal Reconstruction Group builds one of the “coolest offices spaces 2011″
Friday, January 6th, 2012
The December 16-22 issue of the Jacksonville business journal featured the “Coolest office spaces 2011″ including the office of Sisler Johnston Interior design which was recently built by Coastal Reconstruction Group.
The offices of Sisler Johnston Interior Design Inc. are a showcase of the type of work the company does. From the moment you walk in the front door, the office — in an industrial area off Philips Highway — surprises with its luxury and efficiency.
The first floor houses the company’s swatch room, kitchen, lobby and a storage unit. Photos of the company’s work line the walls, but the luxury vinyl tile also impresses. The tiles, which are made of recycled materials, are made to look like a matte hardwood, but can be wet-mopped like a linoleum floor: It’s an ideal option for the company’s customers, which include hotels, senior living centers and housing communities around Northeast Florida.
The architect for the project was John Allman and Coastal Reconstruction Group was the builder.
(Read the entire article at http://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/print-edition/2011/12/16/2011-coolest-office-spaces-sisler.html)
Brain Food: Eating Fish May Lower Your Risk of Alzheimer’s
Wednesday, December 7th, 2011
By ALICE PARK
Eating fish is good for the heart, and now new evidence suggests it may do the brain some good as well.
In a study of 260 healthy elderly participants, researchers led by Dr. Cyrus Raji, a resident at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s department of medicine, found that those regularly eating baked or broiled fish — but not fried — lowered their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Raji and his colleagues took brain scans of all of the volunteers at the start of the study, then again many years later, tracking these changes over an average 10 years. They compared the changes they found in the brain scans with food questionnaires that the participants answered. Compared with non-fish-eaters, those eating fish at least once a week showed less brain-cell loss in the hippocampus and frontal cortex regions of the brain, which are responsible for regulating memory. These people also showed stronger working, or short-term, memory, which allowed them to perform tasks more efficiently.
People who ate fish at least once a week — most of whom consumed fish one to four times a week — were significantly less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment over the five years following their brain scans, compared with those who didn’t eat fish.
But the association may have to do with lifestyle habits other than eating baked or broiled fish that could make people healthier overall. As Dr. Richard Lipton, a neurologist at the Albert Einstein Medical College of Medicine, told USA Today, “One has to wonder if there are other factors associated with fish consumption that they didn’t measure that might be protective. Like maybe people who eat fish exercise more, or eat less total calories.”
The fact that fish-eaters may experience brain benefits from seafood does make sense, however — other studies have suggested that the omega-3 fatty acids found in some fish such as salmon can lower the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The new findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago.
(original Source: http://healthland.time.com/2011/12/01/brain-food-eating-fish-may-lower-your-risk-of-alzheimers/)
VA CIO: Tablet computers could transform health care
Thursday, November 3rd, 2011
BY BOB BREWIN
Tablet computers could transform the way the Veterans Affairs Department delivers medical care with evidence-based medicine that supports the best clinical practices, VA Chief Information Officer Roger Baker predicted Wednesday in his monthly media briefing.
The department kicked off a test of 1,000 Apple iPad tablet computers on Oct. 1 and eventually could deploy up to 100,000, backed by a strong demand from clinicians in the 152 VA hospitals, Baker said.
The first clinical application VA plans to field on the iPads is its Computerized Patient Record System, which will allow doctors moving from room to room throughout a hospital to access patient records from the tablets, providing quick and easy access to data.
Baker also envisions clinical applications that take advantage of the display properties of tablet computers, including heart rate monitors and blood chemistry charts, both of which will allow clinicians to do on-the-spot analysis.
Eventually, the department could supply patients in remote areas with tablet computers equipped with full-motion video capabilities to support home telehealth programs, he said.
Baker believes tech-savvy Veterans Affairs doctors will develop future medical applications for tablets that could be provided through an internal VA app store. With its focus on evidence-based medicine, Baker said VA will create its own “brand” in the world of tablet applications.
VA has fielded only iPads in its tablet pilot, but Baker said he expects to support all types of tablet devices and smartphones, including those that run the Android and Windows operating systems.
The department is developing an acquisition strategy for tablets, but Baker said he envisioned a central procurement managed by his office with funding provided by end-user organizations, such as the Veterans Health Administration and the Veterans Benefits Administration.
(Original Source: http://www.nextgov.com/nextgov/ng_20111026_5287.php?oref=topnews)
Home At Last
Thursday, October 27th, 2011
by Lauren Boston
Apartment management companies’ generosity is helping homeless families build their confidence and economic standing.
Last year, a father of two took his wife and young kids to “The Happiest Place
on Earth.” This year he took them to a homeless shelter.
It’s a story that sadly is unfolding nationwide as thousands of families who once spent summer vacations at Disney World are now out on the streets as a result of the Great Recession.
With record numbers of middle- and working-class parents losing their jobs—then their homes—families of five have been forced to crowd into queen-sized beds in tiny motel rooms or spend nights in the back of their mini-vans. Worse yet, families who seek refuge at local shelters often face the prospects of having to split up.
This is the modern picture of homelessness—and for many apartment management companies, it’s no longer acceptable.
“People don’t understand the magnitude of this situation,” says Ed Wood, President of Concord Management Limited. “This crisis is in our backyard.”
Wood says the Maitland, Fla.-based company felt compelled to act after one of its partners watched a “60 Minutes” segment in March highlighting the astonishing number of homeless children in Florida—a staggering 30 percent in some elementary schools. The following month, Concord launched the New Moves Partnership program in partnership with the non-profit organization Southern Affordable Services Inc., to place homeless families throughout Central Florida in vacant apartment units.
Other apartment management companies are introducing similar programs to help those seeking stable housing. Most are focusing on families who are temporarily homeless through no fault of their own—due to factors such as losing a job, losing a parent or losing their home to a fire—and are offering discounted or free rent while the parents work with case managers to get back on their feet financially.
It’s a hand up, not a hand out—and for families experiencing homelessness for the first time, it means everything.
The Road Home
Homeless children line up in front of cheap motels along the U.S. Highway 192 corridor—a 75-mile stretch of road in Central Florida that runs past Disney World—waiting for the school bus to pick them up. Billboards featuring Mickey Mouse and Cinderella clutter the tourist drag across the street, providing a constant and cruel reminder that despite being just miles from the Magic Kingdom, these children might as well be a world away.
But now, Concord is determined to change that.
Since April, more than 40 homeless families have been placed in apartments through Southern Affordable Services Inc., under the company’s New Moves Partnership program. By year-end, Concord hopes to serve 100 families—one for each of its Florida affordable housing communities.
“Many working-class Americans are one or two paychecks away from being in this very situation,” says Lori Trainer, CAPS, CAM, Vice President of Public Relations. “Our owner decided he was tired of just writing checks to charities—he wanted to be of real service.”
Although there are many subsets of the homeless population, Trainer says most companies in the multifamily housing industry do not have the resources to assist the chronically homeless and those with additional barriers such as drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness. Concord’s program targets families who are temporarily homeless through no fault of their own.
The specific benefits offered to each family vary based on their current financial situation, Trainer says. Their package could range from free rent for up to a year to gradually increasing rent each month.
Concord’s New Moves Partnership program should not be confused with Section 8 or Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) housing.
In Section 8 housing, residents pay rent with a voucher provided by the federal government. Families applying for Section 8 housing today are facing waiting lists of more than a year, and some Section 8 providers are no longer accepting applicants. Trainer says the wait to get into some Section 8 communities in Central Florida is more than three years. The value of Section 8 vouchers also is dropping, in some cases by as much as half. Section 8 families that had been receiving $600 for housing in some areas are now getting about $300.
In LIHTC housing, typically residents cannot earn more than 60 percent of their area median income. The rent is a set amount that is calculated on the area median income. Because the New Moves Partnership is a private program, Concord is able to set the rent to what the resident can afford; rather than a calculated, set amount such as with LIHTC programs.
For the George family, such assistance has made all the difference in the world.
In July 2010, a house fire left Molene George, her mother and her three young children with nothing but the clothes on their backs. The 36-year-old single mother received generous donations from co-workers, local churches and schools and did everything she could to save money—even buying flip-flops to avoid the additional expense of socks. Still, it wasn’t enough.
For 12 months, the Georges had no choice but to crowd into various one-bedroom hotel rooms, staying there for anywhere from a few weeks to six months at a time. Molene was employed, which made her ineligible for many shelters. Others didn’t have the space to accommodate her children, ages 11, 9 and 2. Hotel bills were high and resources were running out.
“Nobody knows what it feels like to be homeless unless you’re in that situation,” says Molene, whose family fed the homeless before finding themselves in that very situation. “It humbles you. You just need someone to give you a chance.”
Fortunately, Concord did just that.
In July 2011, Molene’s family said good-bye to their cramped hotel room and moved into Charleston Club Apartments in Sanford, Fla., seven miles from the home they had lost a year prior.
Concord waived Molene’s application fee, deposit and the first month of rent—a savings of more than $2,000 on a unit with market rent listed at approximately $1,300. During the remaining 11 months in Molene’s lease, rent will slowly increase from $200 a month to $800 a month.
“The program’s purpose is to provide families, such as the Georges, with a boost towards self-sufficiency,” Trainer says. “Rent and deposits are structured to allow the family to save money at the beginning of their lease term and hopefully be able to resume a traditional lease agreement after the first year.”
While some problems—such as a criminal record—cannot be overlooked, Trainer says owners have to close one eye when it comes to minor credit issues and eviction records for the temporarily homeless.
“Unless they’re chronic problems, you have to be willing to take a risk with someone who you normally wouldn’t,” she says.
One Piece of the Puzzle
Apartment owners can do their part to reduce homelessness, and those who are launching outreach programs say they should only be responsible for solving one part of the equation: housing.
Before a homeless family is placed in a Concord community, they must have a case manager or support system from an outside organization who will work with them to identify job opportunities, provide financial counseling, sort out schooling and transportation issues and deal with any other challenges that may arise. Establishing relationships with agencies that provide those services takes time, but Trainer says doing so takes the burden of “solving everything” off the company’s shoulders and minimizes the potential for failure.
Concord is working with one such organization, The Jobs Partnership of Florida, to tackle the issue of unemployment before placing program graduates in vacant units. The faith-based coalition of churches, businesses and community organizations offers a 12-week employability enhancement training course for the chronically unemployed or underemployed that provides them with practical guidance and networking opportunities.
Additionally, volunteers work to improve participants’ attitudes and build their self-esteem—services apartment companies cannot provide but that are vital to the success of families trying to break out of homelessness for the long-term.
“When an organization such as ours works with an apartment management company, we can do together what we couldn’t do on our own,” says Marc Stanakis, President of The Jobs Partnership.
Concord’s program was the perfect fit—and a saving grace—for one of The Jobs Partnership’s recent graduates. The single mother of three found work while living at a homeless shelter, but didn’t have the means to get there. Concord stepped in and moved her family into a community next to a bus line, enabling the mother to get to and from work in minutes.
“The biggest challenge is reliable and safe housing and it has to be tied to employment,” Stanakis says. “If you’re worried about where you’re going to sleep at night, you’re probably not focused on your job. And if you don’t have a job, you can’t pay for a place to live. It’s a frustrating cycle.”
Although Molene George was fortunate to remain employed after losing her home, she is still working with another Christian-based organization to help her family regain a sense of stability. As part of the organization’s guidelines, Molene must be an active member of the church, take a budgeting class and meet with a life coach twice a month. Molene and her children also volunteer at least once a month, often with programs that feed the homeless.
“I want my kids to know that no matter how bad we have it, there are always other people who have it worse,” Molene says.
New Mexico Takes to the Street
Many apartment management companies and local affiliates are focusing their outreach efforts on homeless families deemed “low-risk.” The Apartment Association of New Mexico (AANM) is taking a different approach.
Its involvement began in February after volunteers from the 100,000 Homes Campaign canvassed the streets of Albuquerque, N.M., between 3:30 a.m. and 6 a.m., searching for homeless men, women and children. Of the 700 individuals surveyors encountered, nearly 500 were interviewed—300 of which were identified as “vulnerable.” In other words, they were dangerously close to dying. It was the kick AANM needed to get involved. The association partnered with the project—a national movement of communities working to find permanent homes for 100,000 homeless people by July 2013—and is encouraging its members to donate units.
The initiative takes a housing-first approach, tracing the difficulty that homeless individuals have trying to reach other milestones—such as employment—back to a lack of shelter. Unlike other homeless outreach partnerships in the apartment industry, the 100,000 Homes Campaign (http://100khomes.org/) is looking to house the most vulnerable homeless individuals first—specifically those with at least three major health issues, such as liver disease, a history of cold-weather injury and end-stage renal disease.
Naturally, many apartment owners are apprehensive, says Kelle Senyé, Executive Director for AANM. Some of the homeless individuals who were interviewed not only have life-threatening illnesses, but have been homeless for nearly 20 years.
“It’s not an easy transition—going from sleeping under the stars to under a roof,” Senyé says. “We know we’re going to run into some hurdles, but these people need immediate help. Unlike you or me, if they catch a cold, it turns into pneumonia, which turns into a costly trip to the hospital under taxpayer dollars—or, sadly, death. We have to do something.”
Senyé says Independent Rental Owners (IROs) with greater flexibility on certain issues such as bad credit history and prior evictions seem to be the best fit for the initiative.
One such IRO, Chuck Sheldon, is contributing eight of his units without hesitation. As President of T & C Management LLC, Sheldon owns 250 of the approximately 900 units he manages, many of which can serve individuals with a fixed income.
“We have spoken to the owners about helping our fellow citizens to get back on their feet, and everyone has been very responsive,” Sheldon says. “Plus, we are getting additional income for units that would otherwise be vacant.”
Sheldon says he will rely on the support and guidance of non-profit agencies, such as Catholic Charities and the Red Cross, when a client stumbles and needs assistance—a vital service for long-term homeless individuals who have lost their ability to negotiate or navigate in society, he adds.
Bookkeeping, billing and paperwork have been a challenge, as these agencies have different billing cycles and payment cutoffs that do not coincide with Sheldon’s accounting cycles. Consequently, he must make special provisions within his accounting department to facilitate each agency’s requirements.
Sheldon also says he has established relationships with various agencies that will help ensure the process is as smooth as possible, from application intake to move-in day.
In addition to reducing rents to $375 to $675 for a one-bedroom unit, T & C Management LLC has also made adjustments to its rental-screening criteria. Sheldon says his company is willing to accept homeless men and women who may have some credit issues, prior evictions or felonies such as theft, embezzlement, fraud, domestic violence and some drug-related charges, but no sex-related crimes.
“The key for acceptance of these felonies is that the person is or has received assistance to overcome these types of behaviors in the future,” Sheldon says. “And if not, that we have a service agency currently assigned to work with these individuals. The long-term homeless need a great deal more assistance than families who have lost jobs. These folks have lost their way in life. We are providing a lifeline to these people, many of whom would parish if they do not receive help at this point in their lives.”
Tulsa Lends a Hand
For those who have nothing, anything helps. Owners who don’t feel equipped to house homeless families can still make a big difference by contributing their companies’ time, money and man-power to the cause.
The Tulsa Apartment Association (TAA) works with Youth Services of Tulsa, an organization with a transitional living program for homeless young adults who are employed or enrolled in school. Although TAA doesn’t provide the housing, members contribute furnishings and sponsor food drives to further assist program participants, says TAA Executive Director Keri Cooper.
Cincinnati Lunch Window A Hit
Across the country in the Midwest, the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Apartment Association (GCNKAA) has spearheaded several initiatives under its non-profit charitable organization, Apartment Association Outreach Inc.—a branch of the association sponsored by GCNKAA and run by its volunteers.
In addition to organizing canned food drives to feed the homeless, GCNKAA members and volunteers hand out free lunches every afternoon through a sandwich window in downtown Cincinnati. Located in an alley, the window opens at 12:30 p.m. and often delivers more than 500 sandwiches to the hungry in less than three hours.
GCNKAA also contributes $13,000 annually to The Free Store in Cincinnati and the Welcome House in Covington—two organizations that manage rent assistance programs in Ohio and Northern Kentucky. Such outreach efforts are a meaningful way for members to give back and represent the industry well, says Mark Franks, Executive Vice President of GCNKAA.
“It’s so frustrating to constantly see or hear bad stories in the news about landlords evicting residents,” Franks says. “We wanted to shine a better light on the industry.”
But it’s also about much more than improving the industry’s public image. Half a year into the program, Concord’s Trainer says the homeless outreach initiative has brought out the best in people.
Vendors such as CORT furniture rental have donated beds, while those outside of the industry have donated furniture from vacation time shares. Onsite employees are invested, too.
“We moved in a family a few months ago that didn’t have a TV, so the kids couldn’t watch their cartoons,” Trainer says. “When one of our leasing consultants heard this, she took a TV out of her house and gave it to them.”
It may not be a trip to Disney World, but it’s a start.
(Original Source: http://www.naahq.org/publications/units/2011/10_11/Pages/HomeAtLast.aspx)
Elderly Long Term Care Residents Suffer Cognitively During Disasters
Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
In a summer with unprecedented weather events, from tornados, floods, fires and hurricanes, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing found that physiological changes associated with aging and the presence of chronic illness make older adults more susceptible to illness or injury, even death, during a disaster.
Investigators followed 17 long-term care residents, with a mean age of 86, who were evacuated for five days due to a severe summer storm and were relocated to different facilities with different care providers and physical surroundings. The displaced participants experienced delirium, cognitive changes, hospitalizations, and death, according to research published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing.
“Older adults often have visual and hearing deficits, making it more difficult to interpret their environments and precipitating increased stress,” said lead author Pamela Cacchione, PhD, APRN, GNP, BC. “This stress can also exacerbate chronic illnesses, further precipitating delirium.”
The 17 participants were part of a broader intervention study testing the effectiveness of a nursing intervention to improve vision and hearing impairment and decrease incident delirium and other outcomes.
As part of the parent study residents were measured with four different tests. The MMSE is a 30-item mental status test that includes questions on orientation, language, attention and recall. The GDS is a 30-item interview based depression rating scale requiring yes or no responses, the NEECHAM is a 9-item nurse rated scale that includes the participant’s vital signs and pulse, which is designed to assess for acute confusion/delirium and the mCAM, another delirium assessment tool which includes tasks to assess attention.
The participants were all screened with the NEECHAM and the mCAM on the day of the severe storm and three times a week for two weeks upon their return to their home facility. The scores were compared with their Week 1 scores.
“This study provided documentation of what clinicians have known for some time, but such anecdotal accounts are seldom described with the clinical instrumentation described here,” said Dr. Cacchione. “Unexpected relocation often leads to poor outcomes for nursing home residents.”
The study, published in September 2011 issue, found that more than half the residents were negatively affected by evacuation and showed signs of delirium within the two weeks immediately following – two participants were hospitalized and one died.
“Nurses in all care settings, not just LTC sites, should be aware of the potential difficulties older adults may experience as a result of a natural disaster, especially when evacuations and relocations occur,” said Dr. Cacchione. “Basic physical care, ongoing assessment of chronic conditions, medication management, the return to familiar surroundings, and the return of valued objects should be facilitated as soon as possible.”
(Original Source: HERE)
Best U.S. Cities For Seniors Not What You’d Expect, Says New Study
Wednesday, October 12th, 2011
Minneapolis is the best city in the United States for senior living, with Boston, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Denver rounding out the top five, according to a new survey conducted for the Bankers Life and Casualty Company Center For a Secure RetirementSM.
Criteria in the areas of senior issues and gerontology identified the qualities for optimal senior living. Major categories were: healthcare, economy, health and longevity, social, environment, spiritual life, housing, transportation and crime. Each category was statistically weighted to reflect the needs of the senior population.
“Most surprising is that the survey results contain many cities we don’t often associate with senior living,” said Scott Perry, president of Bankers Life and Casualty Company, the national life and health insurer. “We weren’t interested in another study on where to enjoy your retirement, but instead wanted to find cities that did the best job in providing the services and support that seniors need. The top ranked cities aren’t what come to mind when you think about where to spend your golden years, but they scored high in the criteria most important to the 65 and up bracket.”
The Healthcare category includes physicians per capita, gerontologist to senior ratio, hospitals per capita, hospitals with special care, nursing homes per capita, nursing home beds per capita, continuing care retirement communities per capita and average nursing home rating.
Economy includes consumer price index, sales tax rate, the unemployment rate and the stability index.
Health and Longevity includes life expectancy, age 85 expectancy, depression rate, heart mortality and cancer mortality.
Social includes percentage of seniors, social and emotional support, satisfaction with life rating, art and museums, education level, recreation, four-year colleges and libraries.
Environment includes number of sunny days, clean air levels, clean water measurement, natural disaster risk index, ocean coastline miles, river and lake square mileage, and local/state park number and size.
Spiritual Life includes percent of population belonging to organized religions and the number of religious congregations.
Housing includes cost of living index, housing price, property taxes and apartment rentals.
Transportation includes public transportation, special access and mass transit percentage.
Crime includes violent crime rate and property crime rate.
The Bankers Life and Casualty Company Center for a Secure Retirement Best Cities for Seniors 2011 was conducted in July of 2011 by the independent survey administrator Sperling’s Best Places and identified the top 50 metro areas in the U.S. The complete report may be viewed at www.CenterForASecureRetirement.com.
Best Cities for Seniors 2011
(includes surrounding metropolitan areas*)
San Francisco, CA
Kansas City, MO
Nassau-Suffolk County, NY
St. Louis, MO
Oklahoma City, OK
Salt Lake City, UT
New York, NY
New Orleans, LA
San Jose, CA
San Diego, CA
Fort Worth, TX
San Antonio, TX
Los Angeles, CA
Virginia Beach, VA
Santa Ana, CA
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Las Vegas, NV
*Metropolitan areas are defined by the United States Census Bureau, and include a central city and the surrounding county or counties.
FULL REPORT: http://www.centerforasecureretirement.com/media/124687/18423_bestcities.pdf
(Original Source: http://www.bankers.com/AboutUs-PR-BestU.S.CitiesForSeniors.aspx)
Colo. student develops Twitter app for disasters
Monday, October 3rd, 2011
By Brittany Anas
The Daily Camera
Twitter has become popular during disasters because it offers a concise and efficient communication medium.
BOULDER, Colo. — Inspired by the swift swapping of emergency information through Twitter during last year’s Fourmile Fire, a University of Colorado graduate student developed an Android application to help people use a common language while tweeting during disasters.
Daniel Schaefer, a University of Colorado doctoral student in communication, created a software application — or “app” — for mobile devices that turns everyday language into a Twitter syntax used during disasters through a special smart phone keypad.
Just as public safety communication codes were developed for citizens’ band radios — or CBs — that grew in popularity in the 1970s, a common language is emerging for disaster communication on Twitter.
Twitter has become popular during disasters because it offers a concise and efficient communication medium, Schaefer said. But, he said, a need to standardize the syntaxes used on Twitter has surfaced particularly for the emergency personnel, affected individuals, concerned loved ones, information officers and journalists who use it to provide and monitor information and collaborate on rescue efforts.
Already, Android phones have downloadable smart keyboards that allow users to type in emoticons or foreign languages.
“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if there were a keyboard for people using Twitter during a disaster to use standard codes?’” Schaefer said.
Schaefer’s application uses syntax developed in 2009 by doctoral student Kate Starbird of CU’s Project EPIC (Empowering the Public with Information in Crisis) research group. Nearly 3,000 tweets using the “Tweak the Tweet” syntax were posted in the weeks following Haiti’s 2010 earthquake.
During the Fourmile Fire, Colorado’s most destructive wildfire, Schaefer noticed that people were using wrong hashtags to mark their tweets for easy searching.
Schaefer’s app helps provide a solution to better streamline emergency tweets.
The free app is called the Bucket Brigade Keyboard. It transforms the standard smart phone keyboard display into a keypad of a dozen message choices such as “help,” “location” and “request.”
When those messages are selected, corresponding tweets that could include a user’s status, needs or offers to help are queued for posting online.
The app, for example, turns “I’m Ok” into “#imok.”
Schaefer entered the Bucket Brigade Keyboard in the Federal Communications Commission’s “Apps for Communities” contest.
The challenge called for apps that help local government deliver quality-of-life improving information to populations that are typically disenfranchised or disconnected from broadband communications.
The app has been downloaded in 20 countries.
(Original Source: http://www.firerescue1.com/social-media-for-firefighters/articles/1130209-Colo-student-develops-Twitter-app-for-disasters/)
This September: A Time to Remember. A Time to Prepare.
Thursday, September 1st, 2011
By Darryl J. Madden, Director, Ready Campaign
This September will mark the ten year anniversary of 9/11 and we ask you to take time to remember those lost as well as time to make sure you are prepared for future emergencies. September is National Preparedness Month (NPM), which was founded after 9/11 to increase preparedness in the U.S. It is a time to prepare yourself and those in your care for an unexpected emergency.
If you’ve seen the news recently, you know that emergencies can happen unexpectedly in communities just like yours, to people like you. We’ve seen tornado outbreaks, river floods and flash floods, historic earthquakes, tsunamis, and even water main breaks and power outages in U.S. cities affecting millions of people for days at a time.
This September, please prepare and plan in the event you must go for three days without electricity, water service, access to a supermarket, or local services for several days. Just follow these three steps:
- Get a Kit: Keep enough emergency supplies on hand for you and those in your care – water,
non-perishable food, first aid, prescriptions, flashlight, battery-powered radio – for a checklist of
supplies visit Ready.gov.
- Make a Plan: Discuss, agree on, and document an emergency plan with those in your care. For
sample plans, see Ready.gov. Work together with neighbors, colleagues and others to build
- Be Informed: Free information is available to assist you from federal, state, local, tribal, and
territorial resources. You can find preparedness information by:
- Accessing Ready.gov to learn what to do before, during, and after an emergency
- Contacting your local emergency management agency to get essential information on
specific hazards to your area, local plans for shelter and evacuation, ways to get information
before and during an emergency, and how to sign up for emergency alerts if they are
- Contacting your local firehouse and asking for a tour and information about preparedness
Police, fire and rescue may not always be able to reach you quickly, such as if trees and power lines are down or if they’re overwhelmed by demand from an emergency. The most important step you can take in helping your local responders is being able to take care of yourself and those in your care; the more people who are prepared, the quicker the community will recover.
As FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate reminds us, “Individuals and families are the most important members of the nation’s emergency management team. Being prepared can save precious time if there
is a need to respond to an emergency.” For more information on NPM and for help getting prepared, visit Ready.gov or call 1-800-BE-READY, 1-888-SE-LISTO, and TTY 1-800-462-7585 for free information.
Mean Girls in Assisted Living
Wednesday, June 1st, 2011
By PAULA SPAN
When Rhea Basroon’s mother moved into a New Jersey assisted living facility a few years ago, she found a good friend in an new neighbor named Irene. Her daughters, long concerned that their widowed mother had become isolated and depressed, were initially delighted.
“She and Irene were inseparable,” Ms. Basroon told me. “Whenever there was an activity, they’d both go. Whoever got there first saved a seat.” The two even discouraged others from joining them: “It was just her and Irene.”
Then, disaster. Irene was lured away by another resident, abandoning Ms. Basroon’s mother. “She was so lonely. There was no one else she’d bonded with,” Ms. Basroon recalled. “She was completely devastated.”
But wait! The third woman apparently eventually tired of her prize, or perhaps moved on to other prey. “She dumped Irene, and Irene came back to my mother,” Ms. Basroon said. They remained fast friends until Irene’s death several months later.
In senior residences, Ms. Basroon concluded, “it’s like junior high, with that cliquishness, that excluding” of others.
This phenomenon, a sort of social bullying, apparently comes as no surprise to administrators of senior apartments, assisted living facilities, nursing homes and senior centers. “What happens to mean girls? Some of them go on to become mean old ladies,” said Marsha Frankel, clinical director of senior services at Jewish Family and Children’s Services in Boston, who has led workshops (innocuously called “Creating a Caring Community”) for staff and residents.
What sort of behavior are we talking about? Ms. Frankel and Robin Bonifas, an assistant professor of social work at Arizona State who has begun research on senior bullying, described various situations:
Attempts to turn public spaces into private fiefdoms. “There’s a TV lounge meant to be used by everyone, but one person tries to monopolize it — what show is on, whether the blinds are open or shut, who can sit where,” said Dr. Bonifas.
Exclusion. “Dining room issues are ubiquitous,” said Ms. Frankel. When there’s no assigned seating, a resident may loudly announce that she’s saving a seat, even if no one else is expected, to avoid someone she dislikes. In an exercise class, added Ms. Frankel, who has gathered examples from administrators at several Massachusetts facilities, “one resident told another, in a condescending way, that she was doing it all wrong and shouldn’t be allowed to take the class.”
General nastiness. “People loudly and publicly say insulting things. ‘You’re stupid.’ ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about.’” Ms. Frankel said. In a Newton, Mass., facility she observed, a resident actually discouraged her daughter from visiting, because the daughter was obese and her mother didn’t want her subjected to disparaging gossip. Racial and ethnic differences can also set off malicious comments.
Could all this be a consequence of cognitive impairment? Sometimes, Ms. Frankel said. Dementia can lead to disinhibition, and people say things they might once merely have thought.
But social manipulation and exclusion seem to have more to do with acquiring power, a feeling of control, at a point in life when older people can feel powerless. (Adolescence is another of those points, of course.)
“Perhaps people don’t have ways to get that sense of control in healthy ways, so it’s done by dominating others,” said Dr. Bonifas, a former nursing home social worker. “It gives them a sense that they’re important.”
Some intended victims can shrug off this petty tyranny, but others suffer. They withdraw from activities and social situations, perhaps experience anxiety or depression, want to move out. “It can get pretty nasty, and these are vulnerable people,” Ms. Frankel said.
She hasn’t found her caring community workshops very effective at getting mean seniors to behave better, since nobody considers himself or herself a bully, but they do appear to embolden the staff to intervene.
That can make a difference: At a Massachusetts class in conversational English, five of the regulars — all elderly Russian women with scientific backgrounds — turned on a less-educated newcomer from Hong Kong. They rolled their eyes when she spoke, and they sniped in Russian. The instructor, a social work graduate student and former teacher, finally announced that she would not tolerate abusive behavior in the classroom and threatened to end the session the next time it happened. “That worked,” Ms. Frankel reported.
But bolstering old people’s ability to stand up for themselves might also work. Dr. Bonifas has undertaken a pilot research program on bullying in two Phoenix senior apartment complexes and has noticed that, as with youth bullies, not everyone is equally likely to be a target.
She’s contemplating how to teach someone to say, “You’re not going to treat me like that. Every chair here is available to anyone, and I’ll sit where I want.” That way, she thinks, “the bully doesn’t derive power from the interaction.”
(She’d like to hear about your experiences, if you or your parent has encountered cliquishness and insults from other seniors. Please comment below.)
Perhaps it shouldn’t startle us that this behavior arises in senior residences — people are people, after all, wherever they live — but I’ll admit to some surprise. We all remember this harassment from the cafeteria, but we’d like to think that people learn something in the intervening seven or so decades, right?
“We have expectations that as we grow older we become more mature — the stereotype of the wise old person who knows how to conduct herself,” Dr. Bonifas said. “That’s not necessarily the case.”
(Original Source: http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/31/mean-girls-in-the-nursing-home/?ref=health)