Learning on the job: Local caregiver agency partners with VR company to test innovative training

Courtesy of Care Indeed
Meg Gonzales, Care Indeed’s staffing and employee relations coordinator, tests out the new virtual-reality technology being used to train her caregivers.

Care Indeed has joined forces with the Menlo Park-based Strivr to provide a different kind of on-the-job instruction to caregivers who help patients with dementia: virtual-reality training.

“We are the only company in the country that is using this technology to train caregivers on how to interact (with those affected by dementia),” said Melissa Oakes, business development manager of Care Indeed, which provides at-home assistance to seniors and their family members at six Bay Area locations. “Empathy training is absolutely needed. But then, on the other side, it doesn’t teach you how to interact with that person. Sometimes when you just do empathy training, you can come off more as feeling sorry (for the patient).”

Nutritious meal planning benefits busy families

Courtesy of Reena Vokoun
Planning nutritious meals before going to the grocery store may seem like a hassle, but it could benefit working parents in the long run, according to Passion Fit’s Reena Vokoun.

Daily life has become busier than ever for most families, which can often make eating nutritious meals more challenging. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, typical American diets far exceed the recommended levels of sugar, sodium, saturated fats and refined grains, and fall short of the recommended levels of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

While it may require a small time commitment, organization and planning, it’s possible for families to beat these statistics and eat healthier foods on a regular basis. Below are four meal-planning ideas for busy families to do just that, all strategies I use for meal planning and cooking for my family as well.

Accessible playground gains international attention

Courtesy of Jen Lewin
Palo Alto’s Magical Bridge all-inclusive playground inspired the “Access+Ability” exhibition at this year’s World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Black Eyed Peas rapper Will.i.am, above center, talks with exhibition curators at the event, which ran Jan. 22-25.

The team at Magical Bridge Foundation watched Brooklyn artist Jen Lewin represent their efforts with a traveling version of the “Magical Harp” installation she created for their all-inclusive playground in Palo Alto at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The plot twist: There were no means to get any of the team across the globe, so they watched from approximately 5,898 miles away.

But the inability to attend and view the large-scale photograph, video and temporary laser installation portraying Magical Bridge’s efforts to serve children and adults of all abilities didn’t get the directors of the South Bay-based nonprofit organization down. They have plenty going on at home, with construction of a Redwood City playground set to open by fall and fundraising for a Mountain View playground – with $3.5 million committed so far – in full force.

Healthy Relationship Checklist: 10 benefits of loving well

The new year brings an opportunity for all couples at any stage of an attached relationship – engaged, celebrating silver or gold anniversaries, bringing two families together, newly retired or empty-nesting – to reassess how satisfied they are with this thing called love.

Couple behavior makes sense when we look at it from the perspective of two bonding mammals. Emotional attunement and physical closeness are ancient survival strategies designed to keep us alive when threatened. Our brains encode emotional or physical distance as cause for alarm.

New moms are smiling after duct treatment

As I’ve reported previously, more than 200,000 cases of blocked milk ducts occur in nursing mothers in the U.S. every year. In this column, I’d like to share my own personal experience as one of those mothers.

While it was challenging for many reasons, I’m deeply grateful for this experience because it ultimately led me to create PhysioFit’s innovative blocked milk duct program.

Kids and Pilates: Fitness made fun

kids pilates
Courtesy of PhysioFit
Parents can encourage their children to stay physically active by enrolling them in a Pilates class. According to Pilates instructor Kim Gladfelter, Pilates is low impact – important for growing bodies – and offers kids a fun environment in which to decompress.

Anytime I kick off a new year, I like to ask myself a couple of questions: How am I doing with my exercise routine? Am I getting enough physical activity? Am I finding enjoyable and challenging ways to stay active? When I answer these questions, I’m more likely to set myself up for a year of healthy life choices.

Yet my line of self-directed inquiry doesn’t end there. I also ask: Am I encouraging my children to be physically active, too?

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