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Therapy Dog Visits Children and ElderlyShe may not be able to speak, but she can listen. For Lexi, an adopted 5-year-old lemon beagle-mix, gentleness comes naturally.

At a recent Literacy Night at Spring Grove Elementary, the cream-and-brown-spotted pooch moseyed around calmly as dozens of children flocked to pet her. She stood motionless as the children caressed her back, tail, belly and head.

Lexi, the featured dog of the night and many others, is a volunteer for Touching Moments, an organization that uses animals as therapy and comfort for children and the elderly.

Based in La Crescent, Minn., the program features a variety of animals, including cats, dogs, a rabbit, guinea pig — and even a ferret — that travel to southeast Minnesota and western Wisconsin nursing homes and elementary schools to provide comfort and friendship to those in need.

“To do a job like this takes a special animal,” said volunteer Amber Cordes. “(People) can connect with the animals in a way that they can’t always connect with a human.”

Full story of therapy dog at Lacrosse Tribune

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Elderly Brains Can't Process ScamsA psychological study conducted by Professor Shelley Taylor reported this week that a section of the brain known as the anterior insula is to blame for elderly people being more susceptible to fall victim to scams. This new information creates an interesting addition to a study conducted earlier in the year by researchers at the University of Iowa, which recorded that aging of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex results in a lessened ability to process doubt and skepticism when taking in visual information.

Prof. Taylor, of the University of California Los Angeles, conducted a study wherein 119 elderly residents of a senior living home, between the ages 55 and 84, were shown photos of both neutral/trustworthy faces and faces which showcased visual cues that alert us to non trustworthiness, such as a shifty gaze, smiling without the eyes and facial hair, and asked to rate their level of trustworthiness. The same faces were shown to a group of 24 staff and students between the ages of 20 and 42. While both groups reported equal ratings of trustworthiness while assessing the neutral faces, the elderly group was found to be incapable of picking up on the visual cues provided in the untrustworthy photos.

Full story of elderly brain processing at Examiner

Photos courtesy of and copyright PhotoPin, http://photopin.com/

Granny Pod Could Ease Elder CareViola Baez wouldn’t budge.

Her daughter’s family had just invested about $125,000 in a new kind of home for her, a high-tech cottage that might revolutionize the way Americans care for their aging relatives. But Viola wouldn’t even step inside.

She told her family she would rather continue living in the family’s dining room than move into the shed-size dwelling that had been lowered by crane into the backyard of their Fairfax County, Va., home.

“You’re throwing me out! You’re sending me out to a doghouse! Why not put me in a manicomio?” Viola, 88, told them, using the Spanish word for madhouse.

Then the air conditioner blew. As temperatures and tempers soared in the main house, Viola’s family coaxed her into the cottage to cool off. Viola stayed the night, then another, and another, until summer had turned to fall.

As the first private inhabitant of a MedCottage, Viola is a reluctant pioneer in the search for alternatives to nursing homes for aging Americans. Her relatives agonized over the best way to care for Viola only after her ability to care for herself became questionable. Their decision exposed intergenerational friction that worsened after the new dwelling arrived.

Full story of granny pod at Tampa Bay Online

Photos courtesy of and copyright PhotoPin, http://photopin.com/

Study Shows Surge in Elderly Drivers Causing More ClainsA new study conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) says that the imminent surge of elderly drivers on the roads won’t cause a rise in collision claim frequency, despite the long-held association between elderly drivers and higher collision rates. The expected increase in the number of elderly drivers is a simple matter of demographics. As the baby boomer generation enters retirement, and our population ages, the demographics of drivers will change accordingly.

The HLDI has concluded that a rise in elderly drivers, and subsequent accidents, will be offset by a decrease in younger drivers, who remain the most prone to collisions. The HLDI is U.S.-based, however the demographics of Canada and the U.S. are very similar, and therefore similar conclusions can probably be reached regarding the behavior of elderly drivers. 

Elderly drivers, 60 and over, are predicted to see the biggest increase of any age group. The youngest age groups of drivers are predicted to only see minimal growth.

Full story elderly drivers at Collision Repair Magazine

Photos courtesy of and copyright PhotoPin, http://photopin.com/