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Social networks can help with dieting; some dementia care is unconventional

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Technology

Social network shame = diet success?

Virtual Fridge Lock, Meta Real

Thanks to such Web applications as FitDay and My Weight Loss Coach, posting weight-loss goals and seeking dieting support online is nothing new. But a novel gadget released this month by a Brazilian “diet reeducation program” called Meta Real takes the tactic to a whole new level. The Virtual Fridge Lock is a giant red magnet that users synch with their social networks and stick on the fridge to ward off late-night fridge raids. Open the refrigerator door while the lock is activated, and the device will send an alert to all your social networks. Your buddies can then offer words of advice — or shame you into putting back that piece of pie. The Virtual Fridge Lock is available only to Meta Real clients, but there’s a similarly humiliating app available to the general public: Aherk! offers a “self-blackmailing service” that posts an unflattering picture to Facebook if you fail to meet your goals. Apparently, public shaming is the key to weight-loss success.

Caregiving

Offbeat approaches to dementia

AARP Bulletin, July-August

Llama love. Late-night yoga sessions. Martinis before dinner. The summer issue of the AARP Bulletin takes a look at three unconventional programs that depart from typical Alzheimer’s and dementia treatment. Instead of sticking to a cocktail of drugs and rigid schedules, caregivers are increasingly offering their charges activities that are more engaging and, frankly, more fun. Beatitudes Campus in Phoenix focuses on comfort, allowing for flexible schedules dictated more by an individual’s personality and preferences than medication. ElderServe at Night, a dusk-to-dawn drop-off program at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale in the Bronx, combats sleeplessness, night terrors and disorientation by offering daytime-style activities. From 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., participants can do yoga, cook, paint, listen to live music, garden and even go to the circus. Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley in Littleton, Mass., has what is possibly the most offbeat therapy: Travis the Llama. The furry creature, who caregivers say is docile and lives at the rural nursing home, visits with patients and makes them smile — even if they don’t recognize what he is.

— Maggie Fazeli Fard

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