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.”
Friday, September 4, 2015
We have had several prior blog posts about "eldertech", that is devices, etc. designed specifically for elders (whatever age that is). The eldertech "boom" if you will has been spreading for a while to applications in homes to allow individuals to remain in their homes longer. Who wouldn't want a smart home!
If you missed this article in the Huffington Post, Huff/Post50 Blog take a few minutes and read it: Baby Boomers Are The First Tech-Savvy Retirees -- And Have The Home Renovations To Prove It. The article notes
Some 80 percent are interested in innovative ways of reducing their home expenses, such as using smart thermostats or apps to control appliances. Another 58 percent are interested in technologies to help maintain their home, such as cleaning robots or heated driveways, says David Baxter, a senior vice president with Age Wave, a research and consulting company that teamed with Merrill Lynch to gauge what retirees are doing with their living arrangements.
In fact, Baxter says 47 percent of home renovations -- about $90 billion a year -- comes from households 55 and above. Retirees are renovating their homes to make them safer as they age, but they're also trying to make their homes more attractive and versatile with the hope they can stay in them rather than move in with family or to an institutionalized setting when they are elderly.
What are the top 5 renovations? According to the article:
- adding a home office
- addressing the home's curb appeal
- kitchen upgrades
- the addition of safety features
- renovation in multi-story homes to allow the owner to live on the first floor.
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
I was reading a blog post from Aging in Place Technology Watch which offered a roundup of tech announcements coming out of the 2015 White House Conference on Aging. I was intrigued by the UberAssist project which according to the announcement on Uber's website
Today, Uber will participate in the White House Conference on Aging and discuss Uber’s efforts to engage the senior community. At the event, we will announce the launch of a pilot program for community-based senior outreach. In cities across the country, Uber will offer free technology tutorials and free rides at select retirement communities and senior centers. Alongside public and private sector representatives, we hope to further the conversation about the way technology adoption can improve older adults’ day-to-day lives.
Uber has some projects going in Florida, for example, in Gainesville, Uber
is working with the City ... to offer on-demand transportation for residents of two senior centers as part of a six month program. Anytime a resident at a participating senior center needs a ride, he or she can request one at an even more affordable rate because of support from the city. Free technology tutorials will be available throughout, so residents of the participating centers can feel comfortable and at ease using Uber. Uber is also piloting a similar senior ride program in partnership with the Town of Miami Lakes.
a unique new collaborative research and development initiative for open innovation that will examine and share solutions for aging well. The initiative will identify new technologies, products and services, as well as provide thought leadership in collaboration with older adults, caregivers, healthcare systems, payers, policy makers, corporate innovators, entrepreneurs and academia. The AWH will also seek solutions to improve technology adoption among older adults and make aging well a reality for more people, by enabling them to better connect with their communities and healthcare providers.
You can read all of the WHCOA partner press releases and announcements here.
Tuesday, August 4, 2015
The New York Times ran a story on July 17, 2015 on how scammers are targeting older individuals on internet dating sites. Swindlers Target Older Women on Dating Websites tells the stories of several elders who ended up sending significant sums of money to scammers who had developed virtual relationships with these elders. This high-tech version of the "romance con" has resulted in the legislature in at least one state, Vermont, to consider "pass[ing] a law requiring online dating sites to notify members quickly when there is suspicious activity on their accounts or when another member has been barred on suspicion of financial fraud." As well, the story explains, the proliferation of the virtual version of the romance con was the impetus for action from AARP.
Despite warnings, the digital version of the romance con is now sufficiently widespread that AARP’s Fraud Watch Network in June urged online dating sites to institute more safeguards to protect against such fraud. The safeguards it suggests include using computer algorithms to detect suspicious language patterns, searching for fake profiles, alerting members who have been in contact with someone using a fake profile and providing more education so members are aware of romance cons.
The AARP network recommends that from the beginning, dating site members use Google’s “search by image” to see if the suitor’s picture appears on other sites with different names. If an email from “a potential suitor seems suspicious, cut and paste it into Google and see if the words pop up on any romance scam sites,” the network advised.
On AARP's site, individuals can learn more about these digital romance cons, sign an on-line petition to dating sites to adopt safety measures, and learn 10 tips on how to spot a romance scammer and 5 tips to protect oneself from this "virtual heartbreak".
Thursday, July 23, 2015
As part of the 2015 White House Conference on Aging, HHS posted a blog entry announcing the launch of a new website, aging.gov. According to the blog post from Nora Super, executive director of the WHCOA, "[o]ne of the lessons we learned through this journey is that older Americans, their families and other caregivers sometimes need help navigating the array of federal, state and local supports that are available." The website includes information on healthy aging, retirement security, and elder justice as well as links to various resources. Check it out!
Friday, May 1, 2015
I strongly suspect that my Blogging colleague Becky Morgan, who embraces new technology, will approve. As detailed in the New York Time's business section, Japan's leadership position in a surprising market sector-- as the nation with the highest percentage of older citizens -- has inspired innovation:
Japan is an incubator of aging.... Twenty-five percent of its population, or 33 million people, are age 65 or older, more than double the global average.
IBM, Apple and Japan Post Group, a giant postal service, bank and insurer, declared on Thursday that they were joining to deliver a new technology service to the fast-growing market of older Japanese adults. The service involves equipping Japan’s silver generation with iPads loaded with software apps to help them communicate with family and friends, monitor their health, and buy goods and services.
Friday, April 17, 2015
Scott E. Townsley, a very bright attorney, an adjunct associate professor at UMBC's Erickson School of Aging Studies, and a principal with CliftonLawsonAllen LLP, invited me to join him recently for a presentation to the 2015 Mid-Atlantic Region Resident Council Conference in Silver Spring, Md. (The lovely D.C. area cherry trees were in full bloom that day.)
Our theme was "Hot Topics in Continuing Care." Scott, a regular consultant to nonprofit CCRCs, used his deep experience in senior housing to outline his perspective on the biggest issues facing CCRCs. In preparation for my part, I reached out to my contacts in resident groups around the country and asked them to share with me their biggest concerns.
We then trimmed down our two respective lists and used a Point/Counter Point approach to the debate. Do any of our readers remember 60 Minutes' James Kirkpatrick and Shana Alexander? (Okay, how about Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin's lampoon of the Point/ Counter Point format? I think it is fair to say that we were less political than the first combo, and more polite -- if less humorous -- than the SNL crew. But we had fun.)
With a tip of the hat to David Letterman in borrowing his "top ten" format, here is a very distilled version of my list of Resident Concerns:
10. What does it really mean to be a nonprofit CCRC in 2015?
9. Do we need to worry about conversions of nonprofit CCRCs to for-profit?
8. What is the right response to the trend that residents are older and more disabled, even when first entering the community?
April 17, 2015 in Consumer Information, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Discrimination, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Property Management, Retirement, State Statutes/Regulations, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Directly from the White House:
The first White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA) was held in 1961, with subsequent conferences in 1971, 1981, 1995, and 2005. These conferences have been viewed as catalysts for development of aging policy over the past 50 years. The conferences generated ideas and momentum prompting the establishment of and/or key improvements in many of the programs that represent America’s commitment to older Americans including: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the Older Americans Act.
The 2015 White House Conference on Aging
2015 marks the 50th anniversary of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Older Americans Act, as well as the 80th anniversary of Social Security. The 2015 White House Conference on Aging is an opportunity to recognize the importance of these key programs as well as to look ahead to the issues that will help shape the landscape for older Americans for the next decade.
In the past, conference processes were determined by statute with the form and structure directed by Congress through legislation authorizing the Older Americans Act. To date, Congress has not reauthorized the Older Americans Act, and the pending bill does not include a statutory requirement or framework for the 2015 conference.
However, the White House is committed to hosting a White House Conference on Aging in 2015 and intends to seek broad public engagement and work closely with stakeholders in developing the conference. We also plan to use web tools and social media to encourage as many older Americans as possible to participate. We are engaging with stakeholders and members of the public about the issues and ideas most important to older individuals, their caregivers, and families. We also encourage people to submit their ideas directly through the Get Involved section on this website.
Friday, September 5, 2014
We have several posts about the use of technology in caregiving. I cover it in my classes (do you?) and in particular, I want my students to think about consent, privacy and autonomy. Several years ago, there were stories about PARO, a therapeutic interactive robot designed to resemble a baby harp seal, and its use with certain individuals, including those residing in nursing homes. (The company website has quite a bit of information about PARO, including research papers.) There are lots of different types of technologies available, whether assistive or monitoring.
A recent article in the San Jose Mercury News (and picked up by my local paper, the Tampa Bay Times) Meet Paro, a robot designed to help the elderly, reports on the results from using Paro in a local retirement community. This article looks at the issues of ethics as well as how the use of such "socially assistive" robots results in less isolation for some residents. The story highlights the interactions of some residents with the robot. The article also reviews the debate regarding using such robots. For example, Sherry Turkle, an MIT social scientist is quoted in the article offering a concern that
"faux relationships" with machines may detract from human connections..."It's not just that older people are supposed to be talking. Younger people are supposed to be listening... [and] ... [w]e are showing very little interest in what our elders have to say." Robots like Paro may offer comfort to isolated seniors, Turkle has written, but it could "make us less likely to look for other solutions for their care."
Another expert, Professor Maja Mataric, offers a counter-view, that such robots provide both "valuable reinforcement and motivation" and notes that
While robots aren't a complete substitute for human interaction, she stressed, they may play a vital role since "there just simply aren't enough people to take care of our very large and growing elderly population." ... [and] added: "We need to think about the humane and ethical use of technology, because these things are coming."
I think this is a great topic for discussion with students. Let me know what you think.
Monday, August 11, 2014
A New York teenager whose grandfather suffers from Alzheimer's disease won a $50,000 science prize for developing wearable sensors that send mobile alerts when a dementia patient begins to wander away from bed, officials said on Wednesday. Kenneth Shinozuka, 15, who took home the Scientific American Science in Action Award, said his invention was inspired by his grandfather's symptoms, which frequently caused him to wander from bed in the middle of the night and hurt himself. "I will never forget how deeply moved my entire family was when they first witnessed my sensor detecting Grandfather's wandering," Shinozuka said in a statement. "At that moment, I was struck by the power of technology to change lives." His invention uses coin-sized wireless sensors that are worn on the feet of a potential wanderer. The sensors detect pressure caused when the person stands up, triggering an audible alert on a caregiver's smartphone using an app.
The award honors a project that aims to make a practical difference by addressing an environmental, health or resources challenge, said Scientific American Editor in Chief Mariette DiChristina.
Read more at Reuters.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
With thanks to Phoenix, Arizona Elder Law practitioner Thomas Murphy for the heads up, the Internal Revenue Service is offering a free phone forum on "Retirement Plans after Windsor," on Thursday, June 26 from 2:00 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern time. The forum will be "rebroadcast" on July 8.
Not a lot of details are available on-line about the forum. Here are links to basic information, plus the June 26 registration page (registration is required, but it does not appear the forum is limited to registered agents).
Here's a link to a separate registration site for the "rebroadcast" on July 8.
Monday, May 26, 2014
When I was a child, there was a movie -- or maybe a tv show -- with a friendly robot named Tobor. Tobor soon became an imaginary friend for the neighborhood children, and conveniently, someone we could blame when we forgot to close a door or knocked something over. "Tobor did it!"
Fast forward many years and last week, during a meeting at my Area Agency on Aging, I learned the AAA had entered into a contract with a company that makes home medication dispensers to provide the devices at a modest cost to clients in the county. "Tobor for the Boomer Generation!"
The device, about the size of a blender or coffee machine, can be pre-loaded with a large number of doses of different kinds of medications with different dispensing schedules, and with recorded messages such as "Drink with water." The machine signals the client to take the revealed dose, and continues the signal until the medication is removed. It can also be programmed to contact a family member about a missed dose. Of course, there are limits to the utility of any automated device, as the client must still have the capacity to follow the directions and not simply discard the dose.
It will be interesting to see, over time, whether (and which kind of ) Tobors are effective innovations with long-range satisfaction and utility. I do seem to have a lot of ignored contraptions on my own kitchen counter.