Thursday, August 25, 2016

Positive Aging-The "Iron Nun"

I was happy to see Nike's latest commercial for its Unlimited campaign featuring the triathlete dubbed the Iron Nun. According to an article in the Huffington Post, "Buder said that she manages to fit her training for these races in with her daily life. The sister, who is part of a nontraditional religious order called the Sisters for Christian Community, runs to her church in Spokane, Washington. She also runs to the local jail, where she volunteers to chat with inmates."  I suspect the narration for the commercial is intended as amusing since it relies on aging stereotypes, but the Sister's accomplishments blow those stereotypes out of the water.  Ad of the Day: Nike Celebrates the 'Iron Nun', an 86-Year-Old Triathlete With God on Her Side features the ad, as well as the behind the scenes interview with the sister without the narration. The quote I liked from Sister Buder:   "the only failure is not to try".  Huffington Post quotes from an article on her in Cosmo, "Don’t pay attention to how old you are, only focus on how old you feel ... And be patient — one of my worst enemies is patience, I’m still trying to fine-tune it so that I’m able to stop and smell the roses.”

Kudos Sister for your accomplishments!

August 25, 2016 in Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Aging Solo

Last week we blogged about those elders who have no kids to be their caregivers. The Washington Post featured an article on the topic of "aging solo".  Aging Solo: Okay, I don’t have a child to help me, but I do have a plan, told from the perspective of the author, is an attention-grabber from the beginning

“The trouble is: You think you have time.” That Buddhist-sounding quote from a fortune cookie rattled around the back of my head for decades, seemingly for no reason. Now that I find myself living with my 94-year-old mother in a Florida city where preacher Billy Graham got his start and being a never-wed 60-something has made me a tourist attraction of sorts, I finally understand why I thought the repercussions of growing old without a child or two would not apply to me: I was just plain delusional.

As a New Yorker flush with friends, freelance work, Broadway tickets and great Botox, I had apparently existed in some sort of fun, singles bubble. It was a lifestyle so rewarding that I never read even one article about the stresses of the “sandwich generation.” (Hey, the writers all seemed to be married women with children, so even on a boomer-to-boomer level, I could not relate.)

Of course she's not alone. The article provides statistics--almost 33% of the Boomers have no kids. "That doesn’t count boomer parents who have lost a child or have one who is severely impaired. The Aging Solo pool also includes countless members of families plagued by addiction, disease, cults, rapacious children, even married progeny who much prefer their in-laws. While millions of Aging Soloists have siblings and other kin, many of us can’t imagine (or abide) having them shepherd us to our final rest."

The author calls for an aging plan with friends rather than kids, and using her parents' story as educational,  she offers this advice "When you’re past 50 and single, location is 75 percent of the enchilada. Subways matter. Proximity to friends matters. Suburban seniors communities felt to me like slow death. I found senior centers and assisted-living facilities profoundly lonely because, it seems, the art of making friends does not grow as we age, and not everyone likes endless bingo and dominoes on Tuesdays, followed by a prayer service."

She goes on to offer further tips

It’s better to plan a more personal assisted-living future with your own friends while in your 50s or 60s. That will give you time to choose a location with diverse people and culture, with neighborhoods that have sidewalks and public transit....

Sharing resources can spawn all sorts of possibilities. Maybe my posse grabs several apartments in rental, condo or co-op buildings, or we share a group house in D.C., Manhattan or L.A. Heck, maybe we can find a way to lease a floor in one of the many overbuilt office buildings around the country. Perhaps (if yours is an anti-urban posse) you can hire an architect to design space-age yurts in Arizona. Each madly hip structure would be self-contained, but the colony would have a common dining hall, gym and tech-support center, or whatever your future selves desire.

New to the finances of aging, I had no idea how much control I gained by holding my mother’s durable power of attorney. Had I been less ethical, I could have taken her money and run. Therefore, I’ll never give that power to any one person; it will be held by at least three younger and devoted friends because elder fraud is one of the most horrifying aspects of aging solo. Trust me: That charming new friend who offers to manage your money so you don’t have to deal with “all those bills” is probably well known to the local police.

So what is the author doing to prepare for her aging without kids?  She explains

What am I doing? Well, I’ve started small, using Skype dialogues with my pals to research and download the legal papers — from wills to end-of-life instructions — that we will need, sooner or later. Now we’re aiming higher. Should we learn what to look for in a nurse’s résumé so we can find the right person to help us in our collective dotage? Should we hire a visionary architect to create a high-tech trailer park or a cluster of tiny homes built around communal buildings? Our ideas are still all over the map.

We hope we have time to execute our most appealing visions. Mostly, however, we pledge to be our own Best Friends. United. Forever.... 

August 25, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Other | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Accessible National Parks: A Goal by 2020?

With summer winding down, and the fall semester bearing down on us, hopefully everyone had a fabulous summer. For many of us, summer vacation included a trip to a national park.  I was lucky enough to spend some time in the Rocky Mountain National Park. One day I was walking along an accessible trail, and noticed 4 folks using wheelchairs within the first 100 feet of the trail. This particular trail also offers an accessible campsite. That got me thinking about how many trails in national parks are accessible. That led me to an internet search  (yay Google) which led me to this report, All In! Accessibility in the National Park Service 2015-2020.  The report explains the creation of a task force on accessibility which developed a "strategic plan with specific strategies on how to make parks and programs accessible to a broader range of audiences. These strategies are focused on actions needed to build momentum, augment capacity, and accelerate real improvements over the next five years (2015–2020)." 

The parks are definitely not as accessible as they could be-or should be for that matter.  "[T]he National Park Service is underserving people with varying abilities and their traveling partners. Without accessible parks, the National Park Service loses an opportunity to reach the widest possible audience and share a spectrum of experiences. This lost opportunity is a direct failure to carry out our mission. Both long- and short-term solutions are needed to build momentum and advance the program."  The report sets out 3 goals for the NPS:

  1. "Create a welcoming environment by increasing the ability of the National Park Service to serve visitors and staff with disabilities."
  2.  "Ensure that new facilities and programs are inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities."

  3.  "Upgrade existing facilities, programs, and services to be accessible to people with disabilities."

 

 

 

August 10, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

As the Suburbs Gray....

My friend and colleague, Professor Mark Bauer sent me this recent article (thank you!) Can car-centric suburbs adjust to aging Baby Boomers?  We want to age in place, but neither or houses, or their locations, are always designed for us to do that.

In fact, the American suburbs, built for returning GIs and their burgeoning families, are already aging. In 1950, only 7.4 percent of suburban residents were 65 and older. By 2014, it was 14.5 percent. It will rise dramatically in the coming decades, with the graying of 75.4 million baby boomers mostly living in suburbia.

But car-centric suburban neighborhoods with multilevel homes and scarce sidewalks are a poor match for people who can’t climb stairs or drive a car.

“Most [boomers] are in a state of denial about what really is possible and what’s reasonable for them as they age,” said John Feather, a gerontologist and the CEO of Grantmakers in Aging, a national association of foundations for seniors.

Staying put is not without costs, and not just for retrofitting the house to make it accessible. Instead, the article notes,  "[r]etirees who want to stay in the suburbs will have to cover the rising costs of property taxes and utilities, and they may have to shell out big sums to retrofit their homes if they become frail or disabled. One study found that it can cost $800 to $1,200 to widen a doorway to accommodate a wheelchair, $1,600 to $3,200 for a ramp, and up to $12,000 for a stair lift. Major remodeling, such as adding first-floor bedrooms or bathrooms, can cost much more." 

Then of course, there is the issue of transportation. Out in the suburbs, we may not be able to walk to the stores and services we need, and some of us may no longer be able to drive.  Transportation is critical and we all know about Americans' love of automobiles.  So, what's the answer?

Even if a suburb has a regional transit system, the routes are often limited and geared to help commuters get to and from work in the city. The nearest bus or train stop may be miles from the subdivisions where aging boomers live. And while the Americans with Disabilities Act requires most public transit systems to provide pickup “paratransit” for people with disabilities who are unable to use regular bus or train services, that applies only to people who meet certain criteria.

One alternative is transportation services overseen by a federally funded network of local agencies that offer services and support to older adults to help them age at home and in the community. In many regions, these Area Agencies on Aging contract with local providers that offer door-to-door van services to older adults who qualify. But those programs, often geared to taking seniors to medical appointments and grocery stores, usually offer little flexibility and require clients to make reservations.

The article examines whether such an option will work for Boomers and what local governments need to do to prepare for this demographic change in suburbia.  Of course, some elders choose to move to communities that provide the services and amenities they want and the article discusses these briefly.

But what about transportation?  Doesn't that remain the elephant in the room?  So, off on a tangent...I read another article this morning about Uber selling passes in NY for ride-sharing. Lyft is partnering with GM so drivers can rent cars.   Are we going to see ride-sharing services as an option (or solution) for elders who have had to give up driving? But will this only be an option for those elders who can afford ride-sharing services?  I'm still hopeful about self-driving cars....

July 26, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Housing, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Telemarketing Sales Rule Protections Against Scammers

Good news for consumers! The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced on June 27, 2016 that the telemarketing sales rule (TSR) prohibitions went into effect in June.

The changes to the TSR will stop telemarketers from dipping directly into consumers’ bank accounts through checks and payment orders that have been remotely created by the telemarketer or seller. Since they’re remotely created, they’re never actually signed by the account holder – and that makes it easy for telemarketers and sellers to dip directly into consumers’ bank accounts. And it’s then hard to reverse the transactions with consumers’ banks (again, a reason why con artists love using these methods).

In addition, with the updated rule in place, telemarketers now can’t get payments through traditional cash-to-cash money transfers – the type provided by companies like MoneyGram and Western Union. Scammers use these cash transfers as a quick, anonymous, and irrevocable way to get money from consumers. Once the seller picks up the transfer, the money is gone.

The TSR changes also prohibit telemarketers from accepting as payment cash reload PIN numbers. That means no requests for payment by using MoneyPak, Vanilla Reload, or Reloadit packs, used to add funds to existing prepaid cards. Because scammers use the cash reload PIN numbers to apply the funds to their own prepaid debit cards – and disappear with the money. Except not anymore, under the updated TSR.

Good news all around for consumers! More information for businesses about complying with the TSR is available here.  Thanks to blog reader Mike Polk for alerting me to this update!

 

July 13, 2016 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Disasters Know No Season, Plan Now

As Tropical Storm Colin pounds through Florida on its way northeast, it is a good reminder to all of us to have a disaster plan in place. Although the type of disaster may be somewhat geographic, a disaster plan is especially important for elders and individuals with special needs.  Here are some links to helpful websites with information about disaster planning for elders and individuals with special needs.

FEMA and here

American Red Cross

Ready.gov

Administration for Community Living

June 7, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 23, 2016

Association for Gerontology in Higher Ed Conference

The Association for Gerontology in Higher Ed annual meeting is set for March 9-12, 2017 in Miami.  The call for abstracts closes June 1, 2016 with the conference's theme  "The Future is Here: Educating a New Generation of Professionals in Aging Worldwide." A number of tracks will be offered, including on these topics:

Global Aging

Curriculum and Policy Issues

Age-Friendly Environments

Translating Research to Education and Training

Workforce Development

Program and Curriculum Development

Diversity and Social Justice for Older Persons

More information about submitting an abstract is available here.

May 23, 2016 in Current Affairs, Other, Programs/CLEs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Caregiving For Elders-Not Just A Family Issue, But A Work Issue

We have posted before about family caregivers and their importance.  AARP's May 10, 2016 blog  post,  Eldercare Primarily Concerns Older Workers and Their Employers, Right? Think Again,  explained that "[f]or employers big and small, the need to support workers who also provide unpaid care for a family member is a growing reality." A huge number of family members who work (60%) also serve as family caregivers.  Here's an important point about those 60%, slightly over 50% of them are at least 50 years old. But caregiving is not just an elder law issue, because there is a significant number of younger caregivers too. Almost three-quarters of millenials reported that they were caregiving and working. The blog post ends with the suggestion that
"[a]dvancing a culture of understanding about eldercare needs is especially important to help make the workplace more supportive of workers who are also family caregivers — many of whom are in their prime working years."

 

May 15, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Capacity to Drive

The latest issue of Biofocal from the American Bar Association Commission on Law & Aging is out, and the cover story is an article by Erica Wood on Evaluating the Capacity to DriveMs. Wood explores the question of what is the needed capacity to drive, and notes the skills one needs to be a safe driver.

[E]valuating capacity to drive is of course different from evaluating capacity to make decisions or execute legal transactions. First, driving involves a mix of mental, physical, and sensory abilities. Second, driving has serious risk not only for oneself but also for others as well. And third, the determination of capacity to drive initially rests not with a judge but with the commissioner of the state department of motor vehicles—although judges may well be involved in decisions about drivers licenses, as described in the “View from the Bench” by Judge Lyle. While state laws vary, the Uniform Vehicle Code provides that a license may be denied if the state commissioner finds that a person “by reason of physical or mental disability would not be able to operate a motor vehicle with safety upon the highways” (National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances).

Using the ABA/APA handbook for psychologists "general capacity evaluation framework," Ms. Wood breaks down the assessment elements for capacity to drive: the legal element, the functional component, diagnosis, values, mental health assessment, risk assessment, and clinical judgment that is needed in order "to integrate all of the evidence from the previous steps on supports, conditions, risks, abilities and limitations." The article underscores the need to examine the driver's values, consider emotional factors such as hallucinations and whether the person has capacity with support. Capacity with support is explained as "supports and accommodations that might enhance ability."

In the driving context, this might mean a change of eyeglasses, a higher seat or pillow, a revolving seat, or pedal modifications. With such supports, a functional assessment will test for visual acuity; flexibility to look behind and check blind spots on the road; and strength for control of the steering wheel, brakes, accelerator, and clutch. An assessment also will test the driver’s knowledge about driving rules and what to do in emergency or unexpected situations.

A pdf of the article is available here.

May 12, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other, State Statutes/Regulations, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Keep Working-It May Help You Live Longer

The Wall Street Journal ran an article on May 2, 2016 that working past 65 may be good for the worker's longevity. Retiring After 65 May Help People Live Longer covers a recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. "The risk of dying from any cause over the study period was 11% lower among people who delayed retirement for one year—until age 66—and fell further among people who retired between the ages of 66 and 72, the study found."  One limit on the study-individuals studied were limited to those born between 1931-1941.  The study noted  "[postponing retirement may delay the natural age-related decline in physical, cognitive and mental functioning, reducing the risk of chronic illness...."

Here is an excerpt from the abstract:

Background Retirement is an important transitional process in later life. Despite a large body of research examining the impacts of health on retirement, questions still remain regarding the association of retirement age with survival. We aimed to examine the association between retirement age and mortality among healthy and unhealthy retirees and to investigate whether sociodemographic factors modified this association. .....

Conclusions Early retirement may be a risk factor for mortality and prolonged working life may provide survival benefits among US adults.

The full article is available for purchase here.

Thanks to Professor Dick Kaplan for sending us the link to the article.

May 4, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other, Retirement | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Go For A Walk Outside-Nature Increases Length of Life!

We've all been reading the articles about global warming and the impact on the planet, and on us.  Although Earth Day is a couple of weeks past us, there's even more reason to think about the future of the planet. The Washington Post ran the article Why living around nature could make you live longer.   The article highlights a recent study that indicates that not only is living near nature good for your health, it may help you live longer!  The study was published on April 14, 2016 in the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), Exposure to Greenness and Mortality in a Nationwide Prospective Cohort Study of Women. Here are some excerpts from abstract from the EHP article:  "Objectives: We aimed to examine the prospective association between residential greenness and mortality... Conclusions: Higher levels of green vegetation were associated with decreased mortality. Policies to increase vegetation may provide opportunities for physical activity, reduce harmful exposures, increase social engagement, and improve mental health. While planting vegetation may mitigate effects of climate change, evidence of an association between vegetation and lower mortality rates suggests it also might be used to improve health."

Now, back to the Washington Post story, which tells us "[t]his is all in line with the ways previous research has suggested greenness can affect health. Places with more vegetation are generally thought to be less polluted, and the presence of vegetation, itself, can help keep air cleaner. And green spaces like parks can help encourage people to get outside, exercise and engage with other people — all factors that can improve overall health. The effects on mental health may be somewhat less straightforward, but nonetheless important, as this study suggested."  As far as mental health, the article notes that social engagement and human's long term connection with nature is rejuvenating.

The article quotes one of the authors that more study is needed on the "finer details" of our interacting with nature. But for now, go outside and take a walk (and maybe buy some houseplants, too).

 

 

 

 

May 1, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Greener Death

We have heard about green cemeteries.  Environmentally sensitive deaths have expanded beyond green cemeteries.  According to the New York Times article from April 22, 2016 (Earth Day to those of you reading this closely), others are thinking about lowering the environmental impact a traditional burial may cause. Mushroom Suits, Biodegradable Urns and Death’s Green Frontier starts the story explaining one person's idea, a mushroom suit, or more specifically "the Infinity Burial Suit. It’s a $1,500 outfit that incorporates mushrooms meant to break down a human corpse, cleanse it of toxins and distribute nutrients back into the soil. No one has been buried in it yet, but ... a man who suffers from a chronic illness has agreed to be the first."

In addition to green burials, "[a]t Western Carolina University, researchers with the Urban Death Project are learning how best to turn corpses into compost. In Los Angeles, Undertaking LA operates a “do-your-own-death” workshop to give people the tools to plan home funerals."

What do these new businesses have in common (other than death)? "Design and innovative technology seem to be an important component of these new death products. Roger Moliné, the 24-year-old co-founder of Bios Urn, began a Kickstarter campaign after customers asked for better ways to monitor the health of the trees growing from biodegradable urns. The company raised over $83,000 to design an incubator that, through a sensor embedded in the soil, will send updates to a custom phone app. Around 60,000 urns have been ordered and 200 incubators pre-ordered."

So how do you know if burial products are truly green? Well, there is (you thought I was going to say app for that, didn't you)... there is a council that oversees this.  The Green Burial Council grants certification to products that are actually earth-friendly. The list of certified products is available here.

 

April 28, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Kudos to the Chief Justice

Last week 12 lawyers who are deaf or hard of hearing were sworn into the Supreme Court Bar.  That in and of itself is very special. It was made more so by the actions of Chief Justice Roberts.  Chief Justice Roberts learned some sign language for the occasion; "[a]fter they were presented to the court for admission, Roberts signed in American Sign Language: 'Your motion is granted.'”  Well done Chief Justice.

April 25, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Federal Cases, Legal Practice/Practice Management, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Hoarding-More Prevalent Than You May Think.

I ran across a couple of articles recently about hoarding.  We all have "stuff" and the older we get, the more "stuff" we may have as we accumulate a lifetime of memories. Does that mean we are hoarders? According to the article in the Washington Post, Hoarding is a serious disorder — and it’s only getting worse in the U.S.,

While the stockpiling of stuff is often pinned on America’s culture of mass consumption, hoarding is nothing new. But it’s only in recent years that the subject has received the attention of researchers, social workers, psychologists, fire marshals and public-health officials.

They call it an emerging issue that is certain to grow with an aging population. That’s because, while the first signs often arise in adolescence, they typically worsen with age, usually after a divorce, the death of a spouse or another crisis.

So you have a lot of stuff. And maybe you are disorganized (I once had someone tell me people do two kinds of organizing, some are "pilers" and others are "filers").  Does that mean you are a hoarder? Not necessarily, according to the article, because "[h]oarding is different from merely living amid clutter, experts note. It’s possible to have a messy house and be a pack rat without qualifying for a diagnosis of hoarding behavior. The difference is one of degree. Hoarding disorder is present when the behavior causes distress to the individual or interferes with emotional, physical, social, financial or legal well-being." 

The article offers some interesting insights into hoarding and the research (such as it runs in families) but it isn't until recently that it's been thought of as a brain disorder.  Not only may hoarding have lacked attention in the past, it's one of those situations where the person may not know to seek treatment and the response requires a multi-disciplinary approach. The article has a lot of good information and is insightful in covering the issues.

Then look at this article in Huffington Post's Post 50, 5 Signs That Someone You Love May Be A Hoarder where one expert is quoted as predicting about 4 million people in the U.S. are hoarders. "Hoarding ...  is associated with a number of things including difficulty processing information, the inability to make decisions when confronted with a large amount of information and a failure to categorize things — meaning you can’t see the commonality of objects and they instead all look unique to you." This article offers 5 signs that someone is a hoarder, including constant attendance at garage sales and swap meets, never inviting visitors to the person's home, never giving anything away, keeping every scrap of paper and getting upset at the suggestion of discarding possessions.  Sound like anyone you may know?

 

April 13, 2016 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

What is Old? Watch the video!

Huffington Post's Huff/Post 50 ran a story with an accompanying video, Millennials Show The World What They Believe ‘Old’ Looks Like.  Not unexpectedly, their initial impressions involved some stereotypical perceptions of those who are older. Then watch the video to see what they have learned and how their views changed.  Show the video to your class!

Also, take a look at the new book, Disrupt Aging, from the CEO of AARP, Jo Ann Jenkins.

April 12, 2016 in Books, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Film, Other, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Learning is a Lifetime Habit

As law profs, that title doesn't surprise us. Learning is something we continually do (and so too, hopefully, our students). The Pew Research Center released a new report, Lifelong Learning and Technology. The report looks at learning from a variety of points, including learners who learn for employment and learners who learn for personal reasons.

As far as age for the personal learners, the report provides a breakdown for the percentage "of adults in each group who participated in at least one of a variety of activities in the past 12 months related to personal growth and enrichment...." for those age 65 and older, the percentage engaged in personal learning was 72%. For professional learners ("[a]mong employed adults, % of those who took a course or got extra training in the past 12 months for job-related reasons...") the percentage for those 65 and older was 47%.

The study doesn't just look at age of the learner, but looks at a number of variables, including education, income, ethnicity, race, access to and ownership of tech devices and internet, etc. A pdf of the report is available here.

April 12, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other, Statistics, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Check Out These TED Talks!

American Society on Aging (ASA) recently posted about 5 TED talks on Aging.  5 TED Talks on Aging to Inspire You range from curing Alzheimer's to a grandson's invention to help his grandfather with dementia from wandering. There's a talk from Diana Nyad about her historic swim ("In the pitch-black night, stung by jellyfish, choking on salt water, singing to herself, hallucinating ... Diana Nyad just kept on swimming. And that's how she finally achieved her lifetime goal as an athlete: an extreme 100-mile swim from Cuba to Florida") and a chat between Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda where they "discuss longevity, feminism, the differences between male and female friendship, what it means to live well and women's role in future of our planet. 'I don't even know what I would do without my women friends," Fonda says. "I exist because I have my women friends.'"

Check them out!

April 6, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Other, Sports, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Kudos to Nike for Accessible Designed Shoes

We don't use this blog to promote a specific product, so please don't read the following as that.  There is some educational value in learning about efforts of world-renowned corporations to provide products for people with special needs. I'd heard Nike had shoes in the works for people with special needs so I wanted to share this article regarding their availability. Nike Expands Shoe Line For People With Special Needs was published in the March 16, 2016 issue of Disability Scoop.   "The company was inspired to develop the unique system after hearing from then-16-year-old Matthew Walzer in 2012. Walzer, who has cerebral palsy, requested more accessible footwear so that he would be able to go off to college without needing assistance tying his shoes."  According to the story, there are several models of the shoe from which to choose. 

March 24, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Games, Other, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Immortality through a Robot Clone?

There was an article in Motherboard last week that intrigued me. ​Companies Want to Replicate Your Dead Loved Ones With Robot Clones explains how many struggle with grief and moving on after the death of someone well-loved. 

Many grieving people feel n emotional connection to things that represent dead loved ones, such as headstones, urns and shrines, according to grief counselors. In the future, people may take that phenomenon to stunning new heights: Artificial intelligence experts predict that humans will replace dead relatives with synthetic robot clones, complete with a digital copy of that person's brain.

 According to the article, one research company has taken the first step down this path, with the goal " to 'transfer human consciousness to computers and robots.' The firm has already created thousands of highly detailed “mind clones” to log the memories, values and attitudes of specific people. Using the data, scientists created one of the world's most socially advanced robots, a replica of [the wife of the] ... founder...." 

According to the article, creating these "mind clones" achieves "[t]he goal ... to capture a person’s attitudes, beliefs and memories and create a database that one day will be analogged and uploaded to a robot or holograph, according to the Lifenaut website. Everything down to a person’s mannerisms and quirks can be recreated."

Why you might ask, would one want a have a robot clone of oneself? According to the article, there are several reasons. "Some users simply like the idea of living forever. Others want to document themselves as a part of human history. Some hope to pass on an artistic project or genealogical information to offspring. Fewer will use it to “memorialize” and “communicate with” the dead...."

Google has also filed a patent, according to the article, that focuses on duplicating a personality and would use, the article notes " a cloud-based system in which a digital “personality” can be downloaded like an app."  The article continues, discussing the pros and cons of moving forward with this technology and debates whether humans can really be replicated.

To reference Aldous Huxley, it's a "brave new world."

March 24, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other, Science, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Natural Disasters Know No Season

It seems that no matter the season, there is some type of natural disaster that occurs (example-tornados the week before last in Florida, a major snow storm in the Northeast a few days ago).  We all need to be prepared for natural disasters, and it is important to realize that elders may be disproportionally affected in some cases.  The New York Times on January 8, 2016 ran an article on the importance of being prepared. "Natural disasters, which appear to be on the rise in part because of climate change, are especially hard for older adults. They are particularly vulnerable because many have chronic illnesses that are worsened during the heat of a fire or the high water of a flood. And many are understandably reluctant to leave homes that hold so much history."  The article references studies that reveal a disproportionate number of some natural disasters have been elders. 

One key to survival, as the article notes, is advance planning.  A number of resources, state specific or national, are available online to help prepare.  Every year in Florida, the media alerts us to the approach of hurricane season and we purchase our hurricane supplies and prepare.  Friends in California have told me about their earthquake kits.  The article notes that local governments may have registries for those with special needs or may need assistance in an evacuation.   Preparing in advance for shelter for pets in emergency evacuations is important, since not all emergency shelters take 4-footed family members. The article notes there is even an app for help when disaster strikes!

The article has some good ideas that are valuable to all of us. Here are just a few of my favorite websites for information.

Red Cross Disaster Preparedness for Seniors by Seniors.

Ready.gov  Seniors

CDC  Personal Preparedness for Older Adults and their Caregivers

FEMA  Elderly Special Needs Plans To Be Ready for Disaster

AoA  Keeping Older Americans and People with Disabilities Safe and Healthy During Emergencies

 

January 24, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other | Permalink | Comments (0)