Shaun Mitra is Participating in the Caregiver Smile Summit

caregiver smile summit

Shaun is participating in the Caregiver Smile Summit

Shaun is participating in the Caregiver Smile Summit. He is an angel investor, seasoned business executive and techpreneur. He has deep insights into the new digital technologies and how they can be leveraged to benefit us in our daily lives. He is the Founder CEO of Sentech Ventures, a company that leverages voice first technologies like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant to help seniors “Age in Place”.  He is also an Investor & Chief Business Officer for Technosphere an Internet of Things company that works on innovative electronic products  and solutions.  Prior to this for over two decades Shaun has worked with various technology companies in business management roles. Shaun earned his undergraduate in Engg. from National Institute of Technology in India and his MBA from Scott School of Business in Indiana. He lives in Dallas with his wife and daughter.

caregiver smile summitHis topic on the caregiver smile summit is: Using Smart Speakers to Make Your Life Easier as a Caregiver and for your Elders

Find out more about the Caregiver Smile 

Should You Use a Granny Cam to Monitor a Loved One’s Care?

Should You Use a Granny Cam to Monitor a Loved One’s Care?

MANY STATES NOW HAVE laws mandating that senior communities grant resident requests to install video monitoring equipment, or what we call a granny cam. The latest count shows that Illinois, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington, Maryland, Utah and Virginia have some type of law in this area, and New Jersey enacted a program that loans equipment to health care consumers to allow them to do so. More than a dozen more states are looking into it. It’s a controversial issue and fraught with legal peril. There is no federal law prohibiting the use of such cameras however.

granny cam

Traveling with A Neurodegenerative Disease

neurodegenerative disease

What You Need to Know About Traveling with A Neurodegenerative Disease

Coping with conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Motor Neuron Disease, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s is an emotional rollercoaster for both sufferers and their loved ones. The gradual onset of symptoms, and the loss of physical and mental faculties you once took for granted, is a heavy burden to carry.

Quite naturally, patients and their relatives find neurodegenerative diseases start to limit their horizons in life. Activities and pastimes, they used to enjoy become impossible. But retreating away from things that give you pleasure can lead to a dangerous downward spiral. Studies into dementia, for example, have shown that the less stimulated and engaged patients are, the faster their condition deteriorates.

That is why people are still encouraged to do things like take family holidays and travel, even when they are suffering from a neurodegenerative disease. Whether the impact is physical or cognitive, everyone still needs things to look forward to, experiences that excite them, reasons to laugh and share fond memories.

There are things you need to think about when travelling, of course. But with a little foresight, determination and help from family and friends, you can still have life-affirming adventures that make the more difficult times seem worthwhile.

Take no chances with your meds

If you travel abroad, you will need to take all medications you are on to control your symptoms. This might be a significant amount, so consult your doctor well in advance and make sure you work out with them how much you need to have prescribed.

Carrying large amounts of medications with you might lead to questions being asked, so it is worth taking a copy of your prescription with you as well as a letter from your doctor explaining your condition, what the meds are and what they are for. On flights, keep them in your hand luggage to avoid any potential problems with lost luggage. It’s a good idea to inform your airline in advance about this so notification can be given as you pass through security.

Get the right travel insurance

Neurodegenerative diseases increase the likelihood of you needing medical assistance while you are abroad. As travel insurance covers the cost of any treatment needed in foreign countries, providers want to know the details of any condition you might have that increases the chance of you making a claim. They will usually seek to charge you extra for cover, or perhaps decline to give you insurance if they think the risks are too great.

The best plan is to seek out a specialist provider that offers bespoke neurodegenerative disease travel insuranceas part of a service focused on people with long-standing medical conditions. These providers will usually seek to write a policy around your specific requirements, rather than offering generic cover with a premium stuck on top. This will often both save you money and give you peace of mind that you are covered for your specific needs.


organizing your life



(Reprinted from Sixty and Me Organizing Your Life Around Your Values.)

Dorothy the Organizer is America’s most innovative professional organizer. She’s known to millions as the peerless, yet endearing problem solver on the Emmy-nominated TV show Hoarders.

She is also the best-selling author of five books, a highly sought-after national speaker, and much more. Dorothy is a dear friend and a recent guest on our Caregiver Smile Summit where we discussed the topic of how to organize your life around your values.

Take a Break

Guilt can be so strong for caregivers that they can’t even fathom the idea of a vacation or taking a painting class. How do you tell a loved one you need a time out, especially if they are completely house-bound?

For Dorothy, that question was highly personal. She moved her mom from Texas to about six blocks away from her home while at the same time caregiving for her sister who since passed. Do the following sound familiar?

  • She gave up on her body. Suddenly, she gained 20 pounds.
  • Shewas overloaded and over committed.
  • She was deeply sad and cried a lot.
  • She almost gave up on her career.
  • And she gave up on her quest for joy, watching too much TV and isolating herself

But Dorothy recognized a pattern from when she was 15. At that time, she was caring for her dad before he passed away and was behaving the same way toward her body, mind, and emotions.

Dorothy broke the mold by first convincing herself that she deserved to have a time out.

You have to do that before you can diplomatically and lovingly tell your loved ones.

Re-find/Refine Your Dreams

Dorothy says that we all deserve a joyous life. When we have that, we bring our positive energy to the people for whom we are caring.

When Dorothy was struggling, she looked at her unfulfilled areas and turned all the negatives into questions which required action. Then she could work toward finding the missing answers.

First she wanted to formulate the question that she needed to ask herself concerning her weight gain. What could she do to reverse it? It might be 10 pushups or just a walk to the mailbox and back.

She then considered the next thing that wasn’t working. She was overloaded and overwhelmed. She asked herself, “What would I rather be doing right now?” When you ask that question in that moment, it usually triggers something.

Maybe you saw something on TV, like a vacation spot, or something inspired you, like watching a child painting. These kinds of moments help you think through what it is you want to do. Maybe you do need a vacation or maybe you should take that painting class.

Organizing life around her values helped Dorothy think about how she organized people’s stuff all the time. She says it’swhat’s underneath the clutter not the clutter that matters.

She also stresses how important it is to pile what’s out of whack on one side and put things you want to do on the other. Then organize those values for a better life.

A 5-Point Value System

When you’re organizing your life amongst mounds of stuff and you can’t quite whittle it down, keep the fives, Dorothy says. She’d had a client whose husband had passed, and even after some time the woman still had all of his suits in a closet.

Dorothy had told the widow to pick the one suit that, in her opinion, was a five, the best. The woman had pointed to one her husband had worn on their very first anniversary which had looked so great on him.

You can only have one five, but you can have a four as well. It has to be a four or better to keep.

Therapy Is Not Shameful

Dorothy was very forthcoming in admitting that in her quest to organize her values she set up acouple of sessions with a therapist she had seen a long time ago.

She also attended a codependents anonymous group. That’s a 12-step group just like Alcoholics Anonymous but for people who might be codependent with a family member and for those who are caregivers.

Find Common Things to Do with the One for Whom You Are Caring

Dorothy and her mom started going places and doings things that they both enjoyed. Scrabble, music, dance, afternoon coffee, sketching, writing poetry.

All of these activities with her mom gave Dorothy an expressive creative outlet. She was enjoying herself. She started sharing more of her personal goals with her mom so that her mom could participate.

Build in those activities when you’re both in a good mood to do it. This will help make the caregiving a lot easier.

Follow the Progression

One of Dorothy’s clients was overweight. She wanted to lose those pounds but didn’t know how. What she did know was that she had a dream to ride horses but couldn’t see how to make it happen. So, they started simply.

As a first step, Dorothy had her client put a sticky note on her bathroom mirror that said, “I want to ride horses.”

Next, the woman shared that dream with her sister. While her sister was on vacation, she saw some notecards with printed horses, so she sent a little note back to Dorothy’s client and said, “Good luck with riding horses. I’m all in it for you.”

Then the lady saw that a horse show was coming to town. She told Dorothy, “Maybe I’ll start taking the stairs to get some exercise so I can make it to the show.” It worked.

She made it to the show, and there she saw a pair of gorgeous cowgirl boots which she bought. She started wearing the boots and felt good about it.

For the next step, the lady started parking further away when she went grocery shopping or to the library, and all those activities helped her lose some weight.

Fast forward several months. The woman has signed up for an equestrian class where she’s meeting new people and socializing. She found out they were planning a trip to Costa Rica which included a singles horseback riding trip. Yep, she did that, too.

So, how is it that the woman’s goal turned from a sticky note to signing up for a singles riding trip to Costa Rica?

Dorothy says that if you just take a time out to ask yourself some of those key questions and take one small step toward any of them, you will realize your dreams! You will organize your life around your values!

Oh yeah, one more thing. Her client met a certain someone on the riding trip, something that was not even on her goal list!

What’s on your goal list? Do you live your life around your values? What questions do you need to ask yourself so you can get back on track? Please join the conversation below. Organizing your life starts now.

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