Tuesday, August 23, 2016
This is a story of now you need it, now you don't. Social Security recently required that a person have a cellphone to use the online benefits services. The New York Times ran an article about this requirement that went into effect at the end of July, 2016. Social Security Now Requires Cellphone to Use Online Services explains that SSA makes it mandatory to have an access code sent by text to the recipient's cellphone. The article notes that this requirement "may create hurdles, however, especially for older Americans, who are less likely to use mobile phones. About 78 percent of people 65 and older own a cellphone, compared with 98 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds, according to 2015 data from the Pew Research Center." Still almost 80% of elders have a cell phone-a good number, but that doesn't mean that those with cellphones use text features. The article features a variety of complaints, including the lack of advance notice. The article includes some FAQs, as well as a link to a website on where to get help (at least it's a website, not a cellphone #).
Now for the now you don't part of this story. Recall the quote in the prior paragraph "may create hurdles".... So within two weeks of the regulation taking effect, Social Security has stopped it, for now. The New York Times ran a follow up story explaining the suspension:
After an outcry from older Americans, as well as a letter from two United States senators, the agency backed off the cellphone-based code requirement.
“Our aggressive implementation inconvenienced or restricted access to some of our account holders,” said a statement emailed by an agency spokesman, Mark Hinkle. “We are listening to the public’s concerns and are responding by temporarily rolling back this mandate.”
Note the use of the word "temporarily" because Social Security is continuing to increase security to protect beneficiaries' information and will "introduce alternative authentication options, in addition to texting, within the next six months." The FAQ for this article notes that beneficiaries can opt-in to text-verification now, it's just not a requirement.
Friday, August 19, 2016
Here's a happy story to end the week. Huffington Post's Post50 ran a story last week about a lucky lottery winner. 95-Year-Old Woman Uses Lottery Winnings To Join 21st Century features the winner of a scratch-off ticket who plans to buy herself an upgraded cell phone. "Once it had all sunk in, the great-grandmother quickly began thinking about how she’d spend the cash. In the end, she decided to buy a great treat for herself: a new smartphone." Now granted, smartphones don't cost $30,000 (the amount of her winnings) so the article notes she plans to put the rest in a trust for her family. She explained, "“I’m 95 and there’s not a hell of a lot more I can keep doing with it...."
Sunday, June 19, 2016
It seems every few days (or maybe even more frequently) there is a story about a new tech device that can benefit elders. Here are a few that caught my eye (and I must confess I want each of them)
1. The personal care robot. Asus a few weeks back announced their robot, Zenbo. This entry into the personal robot field is a talking robot. Although not yet available, seems reasonably priced and has an "elder tech" application:
A big part of the pitch is caring for the elderly, which could be especially popular in nearby Japan, which is struggling with an aging population. Zenbo "helps to bridge the digital divide between generations" by allowing seniors to make video calls and use social networking with simple voice commands, Asus said.
It can also connect to a smart bracelet and alert relatives via smartphone app if their elderly relative has a fall.
A video of the robot in action is available here.
2. Self-driving cars. I saw a June 5, 2016 On Assignment episode on self-driving cars, Hands Off, that was quite interesting. When looking for that episode on the web, I ran into this June 5, 2016 article on Forbes about self-driving cars. Consumer Interest In Self-Driving Cars Increasing reports on a recent study regarding self-driving cars, noting that more folks are becoming aware of the technology. So will self-driving cars have an elder-tech application? The respondents in the study thought this
Big Benefit for the Physically Impaired and Elderly There is a strong belief that a part of the population who will benefit most from self-driving cars are people who are physically impaired. About 70% of the respondents believe autonomous vehicles will provide on-demand mobility for the elderly and handicapped.
I think we can all imagine how self-driving cars have an "elder-tech" application but unlike a car driven by a human, I'm pretty sure the autonomous vehicles won't be able to help the elder in or out of the vehicle, or load her packages. (Maybe that will be in the next iteration...) That doesn't mean I don't want one!
3. Smart Homes: Then there is this on the "smart home" front (I want one of those as well). With the changes in leadership at Nest, the Washington Post ran this article Why smart homes are still so dumb. One thought from the article that struck me is the high-tech v. low-tech hurdle. A survey reported in the story mentioned that some folks thought it too difficult to get everything set up when the low tech alternative is so much easier (think flipping on a light switch easy).
4. More on wearables: 5 ways wearables will transform the lives of the elderly covers wearables that focus on, among other things, safety, wandering and falls.
The next few years promise to provide incredible advancements in elder tech world. But there is still an irreplaceable value from human interactions.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
We've blogged on a number of occasions about the "elder tech revolution" and the technology competency of elders. We're not the only ones watching this issue. In fact, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology issued a report to the President in March of this year. Report to the President Independence, Technology and Connection in Older Age is a detailed look at various issues and technologies. The executive summary sets the stage
The U.S. population is getting older, and Americans are living longer, on average, than they ever have before. As they age, people are healthier and more active than the generations before them and have fewer functional limitations such as difficulty walking or blindness. Studies show that people are happier on average as they advance into their later decades and enjoy high levels of accumulated knowledge and experience.
Getting older is a time of social, emotional, mental, and physical change. Retirement might change how a person interacts socially every day, affecting a person’s mood and well-being. Cognitive aging—the normal process of cognitive change as a person gets older—can begin, or a permanent change in physical function may arise. Technology offers a path for people who are navigating these changes potentially to prevent or minimize the risks associated with them and to enhance people’s ability to live their lives fully. We, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), sought to identify technologies and policies that will maximize the independence, productivity, and engagement of Americans in their later years.
The Committee focused on 4 areas of aging: physical and cognitive changes, hearing loss and lack of social interaction. The report contains "cross-cutting recommendations" as well as area-specific recommendations. The cross-cutting recommendations include federal support and coordination, widespread internet access, adoption of monitoring technology, and encouraging research to develop more innovation. There are 12 area-specific recommendations.
The blog post about the report is available here.
Thursday, April 21, 2016
All of us who use social media, raise your hands. Ok, so that is a lot of us. And social media isn't just the province of the young, even though some of us may be digital immigrants. The New York Times ran a recent article about elders on Facebook. Why Do Older People Love Facebook? Let’s Ask My Dad explains about a recent survey done by Penn State.
The press release about the study, Sorry kids, seniors want to connect and communicate on Facebook, too explains "[o]lder adults, who are Facebook's fastest growing demographic, are joining the social network to stay connected and make new connections, just like college kids who joined the site decades ago, according to Penn State researchers." The study looks at the reasons why elders would be drawn to use Facebook, including curiosity, keeping in touch with friends, and connecting with family, as well as communicating with those with shared interests, what the authors refer to as social bonding, social bridging and social surveillance.
The authors suggest that the social media designers need to look at making the media more elder-friendly, and "emphasize simple and convenient interface tools to attract older adult users and motivate them to stay on the site longer." The volume of elder users is growing, so "[d]evelopers may be interested in creating tools for seniors because that age group is the fastest growing demographic among social media users. In 2013, 27 percent of adults aged 65 and older belonged to a social network, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, according to the researchers. Now, the number is 35 percent and is continuing to show an upward trend."
Returning to the New York Times article, the author asked her dad about his Facebook use; "he wanted to be better at keeping in touch with family and with the friends he remembers from my childhood. He told me over Facebook chat (naturally) that his curiosity about what others were up to was his main motivator in finally learning to navigate Facebook." The author quotes one of the co-authors of the study: "[a]s Facebook continues to be a bigger part of American life, the ever-growing population of older Americans is figuring out how to adapt. As people grow older, peer communication through chatting, status updates and commenting will become more important ... and Facebook will need to adapt tools that are suited for an aging audience."
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
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!
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.
Thursday, March 24, 2016
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."
Sunday, March 6, 2016
People Magazine ran a story last week about six Kentucky Middle-Schoolers (you read that right) who have created an app to help those with dementia and Alzheimer's to remember to take their medications. "The Meyzeek Middle School seventh-graders recently became one of eight teams to win the prestigious Verizon Innovative App Challenge, earning $20,000 for their school's STEM learning and a chance to bring their app to life with the help of Massachusetts Institute of Technology coding experts."
Kentucky Middle School Girls Develop App to Assist Alzheimer's and Dementia Patients: 'This Is a Tribute to My Grandfather' explains the project is the brainchild of Ellie Tilford who experienced first-hand the struggle for many of those with dementia to remember to take meds. "The girls' concept, Pharm Alarm, sends alert messages to patients when it's time to take their meds – if they forget, family members and doctors are immediately notified." Not only does the app have the alarm that alerts the phone-tree of contacts, it also includes "a pill log, which allows caregivers to scan in medicinal information through a pill container's labeled barcode, and a compliance graph for doctors to measure what percentage patients are taking their pills and attending doctor appointments." The article notes that the app should be available for download in June of this year.
Thanks to Stetson Law alum Erica Munz for sending me the link to the story.
Thursday, February 18, 2016
Professor Sharona Hoffman of Case Western Law is featured in a ten minute video podcast that focuses on her book, Aging with a Plan: How a Little Thought Today Can Vastly Improve Your Tomorrow. According to the website promoting the video, "[t]he book is a concise but comprehensive resource designed to help people who are middle aged and beyond plan for their own aging and for taking care of elderly loved ones."
Here is the abstract from the book:
This book offers a concise, comprehensive resource for middle-aged readers who are facing the prospects of their own aging and of caring for elderly relatives — an often overwhelming task for which little in life prepares us.
Everyone ages, and nearly everyone will also experience having to support aging relatives. Being prepared is vital to being able to make good decisions when challenges and crises arise. This book addresses a breadth of topics that are relevant to aging and caring for the elderly, analyzing each thoroughly and providing up-to-date, practical advice. It can serve as a concise and comprehensive resource read start-to-finish to plan for an individual's own old age or to anticipate the needs of aging relatives, or as a quick-reference guide on specific issues and topics that are relevant to each reader's circumstances and needs.
Using an interdisciplinary approach, Aging with a Plan: How a Little Thought Today Can Vastly Improve Your Tomorrow develops recommendations for building sustainable social, legal, medical, and financial support systems that can promote a good quality of life throughout the aging process. Chapters address critical topics such as retirement savings and expenses, residential settings, legal planning, the elderly and driving, long-term care, coordinated medical care, and end-of-life decisions. The author combines analysis of recent research on the challenges of aging with engaging anecdotes and personal observations. Readers in their 40s, 50s, and beyond will greatly benefit from learning about aging in the 21st century and from investing some effort in planning for their own old age and that of their loved ones
Sunday, February 14, 2016
Ever wonder if using social media helps advance the services and care for America's elders? According to a recent article in Aging Today on the website of the American Society on Aging (ASA), the answer to that question is yes. In Advocating for Aging Services in a Digital World, published on January 25, 2016, the author explains
Given all the issues that face older Americans, why is it worth the time and effort it takes to tend to a social media feed? Consider the dual nature of any effort to create social change. On every social issue, there is the “work-work” to be done—policies to be crafted, programs to be improved, risks to be reduced and funding to be secured—and then there is the “meaning-making work.” The latter involves defining the problem and its appropriate solutions, building public awareness and cultivating political will. Both efforts are essential to creating meaningful social change.
In aging policies, the author explains the importance of strategy and dissemination of the message:
So, engaging in social media is a powerful tool for shaping opinions and engaging key constituencies. But the power of this tool also means it must be handled with care. A communicator’s choices about what to emphasize and what to leave unsaid have a significant impact on how the communication is understood, interpreted and acted upon.
The article continues, offering suggestions for effective online advocacy, including how to frame a message by offering information and solutions. "[U]sing the power social media affords [the chance] to shape the public conversation. By considering the frame effects of the narratives they tell—online or elsewhere—advocates for better policies around aging can help to mature the issue of an aging America."
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Tech gifts are always a popular gift for the holidays, but how much use do they get? Perhaps it depends to some extent on the age of the recipient, at least for those gifts that require online access. Pew Research Center recently issued a report that looks at frequency of online access. One-fifth of Americans report going online ‘almost constantly’ reports on the frequency of online access by age group, as well as by education and income. I am sure all of us are online a lot (you have to be online to read this post). How did we manage before the internet? (that's tongue in cheek if you were wondering). "Younger adults are in the vanguard of the constantly connected: Fully 36% of 18- to 29-year-olds go online almost constantly and 50% go online multiple times per day. By comparison, just 6% of those 65 and older go online almost constantly (and just 24% go online multiple times per day)."
How many devices do you have? Odds are, more than one. Another Pew report from November noted that "66% of Americans own at least two digital devices – smartphone, desktop or laptop computer, or tablet – and 36% own all three." Smartphone, computer or tablet? 36% of Americans own all three.
Want suggestions on what tech gifts to get (or give)? Check out AARP's The Ultimate Guide to Tech @50+ which provides information about 32 different tech gifts in 10 categories, ranging from health to money management.
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
I'm fascinated by technology and I've read several articles about the use of technology in caregiving for elders. With the proliferation of drone use by consumers, I was interested in the December 4, 2015 article in the New York Times As Aging Population Grows, So Do Robotic Health Aides. A robotics prof at the University of Illinois has a grant "to explore the idea of designing small autonomous drones to perform simple household chores, like retrieving a bottle of medicine from another room. Dr. Hovakimyan [the professor] acknowledged that the idea might seem off-putting to many, but she believes that drones not only will be safe, but will become an everyday fixture in elder care within a decade or two." The use of robotic caregivers is viewed as a way to help folks stay at home longer than now.
Can technology or robots be used to combat isolation and loneliness? The article turns to "Brookdale Senior Living, one of the nation’s largest providers of assisted living and home care... [which] is using a variety of Internet-connected services to help aging clients stay more closely connected with family and friends." According to the senior director of dementia care and programs at Brookdale, "there was growing evidence that staying connected, even electronically, offsets the cognitive decline associated with aging."
The article features several technologies under development, not just the drones which Dr. Hovakimyan refers to as “Bibbidi Bobbidi Bots." The article notes that Toyota is even getting into the field, noting that adding artificial intelligence to vehicles to make driving safer and to"make it possible for aging people to drive safely longer."
There are concerns about downsides to the use of such technologies, which are discussed in the article. The article turns to other countries leading the way in these advances and concludes with discussing a number of products currently on the market and how those may compare with in-person interactions.
Monday, October 19, 2015
Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) announced the forthcoming publication of a report on elders and depression and the differences when they had in-person interactions vs. virtual interactions. Research: Face-to-face socializing more powerful than phone calls, emails in guarding against depression in older adults is published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (free to members). The release on the study described the findings: "Study participants who regularly met in person with family and friends were less likely to report symptoms of depression, compared with participants who emailed or spoke on the phone. The gains people derived from face-to-face socializing endured even years later."
Here are some more details about the study from the news release:
Researchers examined the frequency of in-person, telephone and written social contact, including email. Then they looked at the risk of depression symptoms two years later, adjusting for potential confounding factors including health status, how close people lived from family and preexisting depression.
The researchers found that having little face-to-face social contact nearly doubles your risk of having depression two years later. They also reported that having more or fewer phone conversations, or written or email contact, had no effect on depression.
Study participants who met up with family and friends at least three times a week had the lowest level of depressive symptoms two years later – 6.5 percent – than those who had less frequent contact. Individuals who met up just once every few months or less frequently had an 11.5 percent chance of depressive symptoms.
Friday, October 9, 2015
We have previously blogged about technology that allows a person to more effectively age in place and about "smart homes." As well, we have mentioned the security issues with some technologies, so I was interested in a recent blog post published on the AARP blog Thinking Policy.
Making the Smart Home a Secure Home focuses on smart homes, described as a home designed "to help automate routine tasks and make homes more efficient." Looking at security for smart home technologies, the author offers 3 tips for a secure smart home: (1) "build strong security protections into all connected devices from the start...." (2) ensure that "software controlling connected devices is can be updated...." and (3) "securely transmitting and storing data gathered by connected devices"
The author concludes the article by saying:
The smart home promises to improve the lives of consumers by automating routine tasks and finding efficiencies that save money. Securing the connected devices constituting the smart home will make it more likely that consumers will adopt this technology. If the smart home industry continues to neglect the security of devices, government-mandated security protections might be necessary to resolve these issues.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Over the weekend I caught an interview with Brian Liu, co-founder of LegalZoom, broadcast on From Scratch, a radio show about "entrepreneurial life." The host, Jessica Harris, who has an interesting business background of her own, is a very good interviewer, encouraging guests to explore strengths and weaknesses of their ideas, moving from first inspiration to current goals. She also asks "work/life balance" questions, often getting candid admissions of the private struggles some have to achieve balance.
I was intrigued with Liu's central premise, that his company does not compete, at least not directly, with law firms for business. Rather, he believes that the vast majority of clients are drawn to his company precisely because they would never go to a lawyer, whether because of cost, unease about attorneys, or perceptions about value.
It was also interesting to hear that Legal Zoom's first ten clients, accessing the company's on-line document portal on a Friday night, were seeking "living wills." That fact tells us a lot about underserved legal and health care needs, doesn't it.
September 29, 2015 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Estates and Trusts, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, Legal Practice/Practice Management, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)
Thursday, September 24, 2015
The Huffington Post blog recently carried a post from Paul H. Irving, of the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging and a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the USC Davis School of Gerontology. Professor Irving opens his blog post, Why Technology Is The Catalyst For A New Era Of Aging In Place, with a reference to the movie, 2001 A Space Odyssey and a mention of a recent report from the Milken Institute with the finding that most older Americans want to age in place at their homes. "Technological advances may be an answer to that challenge." Here's why he thinks so. Professor Irving writes
The proliferation of the "Internet of things" is in full swing, and older adults will be beneficiaries. Wearables and digital devices monitor health and movement data and enhance safety. Phones, computers and social networks provide connections to family, friends, physicians and caregivers, and almost instant access to a wide range of products and services. Virtual workplaces and distance learning elevate knowledge, productivity and purpose. Thoughtful architecture and computer-assisted design create new-generation homes that are built to accommodate aging, with navigable floors, doorways and rooms, counter heights for standing or sitting, thermostats that are easy to set and entertainment options that would have been unimaginable a generation ago. Older adults can look to technology for help in preparing meals and ensuring that the right medicine is taken at the right time. Tuned to particular needs and preferences, home environments will be customized and personalized as technological innovation brings out the best of both human and machine.
Recognizing as well that local governments play a role in successful aging in place, Professor Irving discusses the need for a community to provide services, transportation, etc. After noting that it will take time to move communities in this direction, he concludes that "[a]ll ages have a stake in this -- and the true beneficiaries of these advances may well be aging generations to come. In the meantime, as concerns about the impacts of technology weigh on some, we should celebrate technology's potential to empower older adults and brighten the future of aging."
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Pew Research Center recently issued a new report examining internet use over the past 15 years. Americans’ Internet Access: 2000-2015 looks at uses of the Internet by different groups, based on age, education, income, gender and other factors. More than half of elders are going on line, according to the findings published in the report ("[o]lder adults have lagged behind younger adults in their adoption, but now a clear majority (58%) of senior citizens uses the internet.") How fast are elders adopting Internet use? This figure puts it in perspective for us: "14% of seniors used the internet in 2000, while 58% do so today. Not until 2012 did more than half of all adults ages 65 and older report using the internet."
This is important information on several levels. With the push for the use of "elder-tech" to help folks age in place and many government agencies placing information on the web, consider how comfortable digital immigrants are with various technologies. The internet of things can be wonderful, if one does go online...
Another report from Pew notes that yes, there are those who do not go online! 15% of Americans don’t use the internet. Who are they? Well if you are reading this blog, we know that you aren't among that 15%. For our purposes, looking at the data on age and internet use, the report provides that "[s]eniors are the group most likely to say they never go online. About four-in-ten adults ages 65 and older (39%) do not use the internet, compared with only 3% of 18- to 29-year-olds." As noted above, elders are adopting the internet at a faster rate in the past 15 years. "Over time, the offline population has been shrinking, and for some groups that change has been especially dramatic. For example, 86% of adults 65 and older did not go online in 2000; today that figure has been cut in half."
Thursday, September 10, 2015
Those regular readers of our blog know my love of technology and my frequent postings about eldertech. Check this out. AARP has launched a site devoted to tech, with a cool name! The AARP Tek Academy is part of their Technology Education Center. For those of you wondering if TEK is some derivation of tech, it is actually an acronym for "Technology, Education and Knowledge." There are videos and articles on a variety of topics including social media, cyber security, using tablets and more. In person workshops are available in some locations. Great resource!
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
A few weeks ago I blogged about the technology innovations announced as part of the 2015 White House Conference on Aging. I was interested to read a July 24, 2015 article in the NY Times on the use of technology as a sort of "safety net" for elders. Technology, While Not a Fountain of Youth, Can Make Aging Safer highlights a number of different services and technologies that can allow a person to remain at home and independent longer. The article quotes Dr. Laura Carstensen , the Director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, who said "[i]n three to five years, aging will be transformed... We are in the early stages of seeing what technology can do. Nursing homes will become like the poorhouses of yore as technology makes living at home easier...."
I found the various technologies discussed in the article quite fascinating (and of course, I want to try them out right now). The article recognizes there is some ramp up time to a comfort level in using technology, especially for digital immigrants who still have something of a learning curve to adopting such new technologies.
The article referenced Dr. Joseph Coughlin, Director of MIT's AgeLab, who notes that "[d]espite the awkwardness that can accompany the adoption of new technology ...[he] predicts that technology will help people stay at home and manage their frailties far longer than they can today, when the average person who enters assisted living does so at 83." The article quotes Dr. Coughlin: “[o]ld age looks really good from here... [b]ut society must make sure that there’s still purpose to life too.”