Thursday, March 16, 2017

IBM Tech to Track Mom to Help Her Stay At Home

Last week Business Insider ran a story on IBM's plan to track elders. IBM wants to protect senior citizens by tracking nearly their every move explains that IBM has been spending a lot of time on a project to discover how to help boomers continue to be healthy and happy. "That research has zeroed in on outfitting boomers' living spaces with artificially-intelligent sensors that can measure things like air quality, sleep quality, movement patterns, falls, and changes in scent and sound."  The data derived, according to the article, can help the kids and doctors "provide people with better care when needed. Critically, the sensors could detect when people deviate from a baseline to offer person-specific alerts." 

IBM is ready for beta testing their projects and in fact, the article explains " IBM announced its partnership with Avamere, a senior health care services company. Over the next six months, IBM will use Avamere's assisted living facilities to perform research on prototype sensors... Across three different locations — nursing facilities, assisted living, and independent homes — the sensors will collect data on people's environment and behavior."  This is not all that IBM is developing. IBM is also working with Rice University on a robot, known as MERA (or "the IBM Multi-Purpose Eldercare Robot Assistant (MERA), which the company has been testing at its "Aging in Place" lab in Austin, Texas....Sensors can detect when the stove's burners are on, or when a person has fallen down. Even in its prototype stage, MERA is equipped with cameras to read facial expressions, sensors to capture vital signs, and Watson-powered speech recognition to know when to call for help."

But what if mom doesn't want all this monitoring (is anyone besides me thinking about mom's privacy?)? IBM's response-the design will not be obvious and will be a gradual and "[I]f IBM's vision becomes reality, by the mid-21st century, millennials won't be guessing how their parents are faring. They'll have all the data they need, and seniors won't feel as if they're under anyone's care — even if the safety net is sitting right beneath them."

Hal, big brother really is watching!

Thanks to Tom Moran for sending me this article.

March 16, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Web/Tech | Permalink

Monday, March 13, 2017

Planning Ahead for the What-Ifs In Your Last Years of LIfe

We don't know what the future holds for us, especially in our final years, but we can bet that we may be faced with some health care issues. Wouldn't it be great to have a guidebook for the final years? Well now you can.  According to an article in Kaiser Health News, A Playbook For Managing Problems In The Last Chapter Of Your Life, there is "a unique website, www.planyourlifespan.org, which helps older adults plan for predictable problems during what Lindquist calls the “last quarter of life” — roughly, from age 75 on...“Many people plan for retirement,” the energetic physician explained in her office close to Lake Michigan. “They complete a will, assign powers of attorney, pick out a funeral home, and they think they’re done.”...What doesn’t get addressed is how older adults will continue living at home if health-related concerns compromise their independence." The focus isn't on end of life planning, according to the article, it's the time before. "Investigators wanted to know which events might make it difficult for people to remain at home. Seniors named five: being hospitalized, falling, developing dementia, having a spouse fall ill or die, and not being able to keep up their homes."

The result of the work is an interactive website that deals with issues such as falls, hospitalization, dementia, finances and conversations. The website offers that "Plan Your Lifespan will help you learn valuable information and provide you with an easy-to-use tool that you can fill in with your plans, make updates as needed, and easily share it with family and friends."  Try it!

March 13, 2017 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Is Tech Changing Aging?

We've blogged on a number of occasions about the use of tech to provide services and support to elders, for various reasons. The American Society on Aging will have a series of sessions that deals with how tech is affecting, impacting, or facilitating aging at their annual Aging in America conference. Searching the sessions listings by the keyword "technology" brings up a significant number of sessions.  An email I received highlighting the tech sessions included this list of sessions

  • NEST CG Program: Co-design of Environments, Services and Technologies With an Aging Population
  • Improving Health and Wellness of Seniors Using Wearable Technology
  • Co-Designing Environments: The Way Forward
  • On Participation: Co-Design of Services
  • 21st Century Digital Communities: Technology that Supports Aging Needs
  • An Innovative Model of Technology Strategies That Promote Aging in Place in Low-Income Housing Settings
  • Building a Community-Based Sustainable Telehealth Intervention Program for Seniors
  • Quantifying the Positive Effects of Music and Memory iPods and iPads for Dementia Care
  • Policy to Practice: Assistive Technology and Aging
  • Addressing Social Isolation Through Technology
  • Gadgets or Godsends: How to Understand and Leverage Digital Technologies to Help Seniors
  • Technology and a Multigenerational Staff
  • The Impact of Senior-Friendly Websites
  • Access: Innovative Mobility Options for Seniors
  • Integrated eTechnology: Eldercare for the 21st Century
  • Innovative Design Applications for Creating Living Environments for All Ages and Abilities
  • ABCs of In-Home Technology for Post-Acute Patients
  • Mobile Technology and Aging: How Seniors Are Keeping Up and Connecting
  • New Technologies Supporting Creation and Sharing in Art Therapy With Older Adults
  • Technology in the Life of the Caregiver
  • Using Technology in Long-Term Care
  • Medication Reconciliation Using a Mobile On-Demand Virtual Pharmacist
  • Technology Solutions to Collect and Analyze Data Outside Hospital Walls
  • Your Digital Mission: How Social Technology Can Advance Your Organization's Service
  • Developing a One-Call, One-Click Transportation System
  • Age-Friendly Efforts 2.0
  • Technology for Social Change

If you are at the conference and attend any of these tech sessions, let us know.

February 7, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Programs/CLEs, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Robot Friends?

The New York Times ran an article about the use of robots for elders. Seniors Welcome New, Battery-Powered Friends explains retirement communities are among the leaders of testing out new technologies.  "Early adopters ... are on the front lines of testing new technologies that some experts say are set to upend a few of the constants of retirement. Eager not to be left behind, retirement communities are increasingly serving as testing grounds that vet winners and losers."

Here is something that I thought particularly interesting regarding technology development pointed out in this article. "Some technologists see the most promise in the social dimensions. For too long, technology has been chasing problems rather than trying to delight human beings, said Joseph Coughlin, director of the AgeLab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Where are the devices that help us learn and expand our horizons?” he said."

The article explores the advantages of robot companions with some of those designed specifically for neophytes of technology.  For example, one company has developed a robot that requires little tech expertise to use, and the robot "is connected to Wi-Fi and operated remotely. In its next iteration, the company is working on training the robot to pick up objects... [The company's] robots will be offered by a consumer health firm ... to retirement communities and people aging in place. The yearly cost is about 20 percent of the cost, on average, of hiring full-time caregivers...."  The article explores the role of elders in testing tech products and the value of the feedback that they give. 

I love technology "stuff" and can't wait for the next new shiny thing. But, I am concerned if we begin to rely on technology solely as the means of providing caregiving. I can't wait to have my own personal robot, but will it give good hugs?

January 31, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Social Media Use by Age

Do you use social media? You aren't alone if you are.  Pew Research released a new social media fact sheet that breaks down social media use, with 69% of Americans using social media at some time. But since this is an elderlawprof blog, I know you want to know more--specifically the percentage of older persons using social media. Wait no longer! 34% of those 65 and older used social media as of the time of the survey, with  64% of those age 50-64 using social media.   But which social media are older persons using?  That 50-64 age group has a significant presence on Facebook, 61%, compared to 36% of those 65 and older. Pinterest and LinkedIn came in close seconds for those 50-64 (24% and 21% respectively). LinkedIn was a distant second for those 65 and over.  Another report from Pew breaks out usage by social media platforms.

 

 

January 19, 2017 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Other, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Apple Enhances Accessibility in Products

Disability Scoop ran an article on November 1, 2016, Apple Doubling Down On Accessibility. Check this out:

Apple kicked off an event last week to unveil its latest lineup of MacBook Pros and other new offerings with a video showcasing the unique ways that people with disabilities use their products.

The brief clip shows individuals with physical and developmental disabilities using technology to overcome basic challenges — from speaking to learning, engaging with others and taking photographs.

Apple also unveiled its accessibility website, the landing page of which explains: "[t]he most powerful technology in the world is technology that everyone, including people with disabilities, can use. To work, create, communicate, stay in shape, and be entertained. So we don’t design products for some people or even most people. We design them for every single person."  The page offers links to accessibility features for each Apple product.

This you have to see. Check it out!

November 2, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Other, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Do You Know Seniors Working in the "Gig" Economy?

My colleague, Becky Morgan, posted recently about the trend of senior-aged consumers as customers of Uber and other ride-hailing companies.   Smart marketing for the alternatives to traditional taxi-cabs includes finding ways for seniors to use and pay for services without smart phones.

Additional research demonstrates that seniors may also play an increasing role in the work force for ride-hailing companies.  They are drivers, not just passengers (both literally and metaphorically).  The latest research from the JP Morgan Chase Institute introduced me to a new label -- the "gig economy," and ride-hailing services are just one part of that economy: 

Our research shows that a rising number of seniors are supplementing their income -- in non-trivial amounts -- by participating in the "gig economy", or Online Platform Economy. . . Among all adults, participation in the Online Platform Economy has been growing very quickly. To measure this growth, we assembled a dataset of over 260,000 anonymized Chase customers who earned income from at least of of 30 distinct platforms between October 2012 and September 2015 -- the largest sample of platform earners to date. During this period, the cumulative participation rate grew from 0.1% of adults to 4.2%. a 47-fold growth.

 

Although most participants in the platform economy are younger workers, seniors are not standing on the sidelines.  In the 12 months ending September 2015, about 0.9 percent of seniors were providers in the

 

 in the platform economy, compared to 3.1 percent of the general population.  With over 47 million seniors in America, this translates to over 400,000 seniors participating in the platform economy. 

 

For those seniors who do participate, their earnings are often substantial.  In our research, we distinguish between labor and capital platforms.  Labor platforms, such as Uber or TaskRabbit, connect customers with freelance or contingent workers who perform discrete projects or assignments. Capital platforms, such as eBay or Airbnb, connect customers with individuals who rent assets or sell goods peer-to-peer.

For more on participation of seniors in the Gig Economy, and for other interesting data points about seniors as both workers and spenders, read Past 65 and Still Working: Big Data Insights on Senior Citizens' Financial Lives, from JP Morgan Chase Institute.

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September 7, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Retirement, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Cellphone Required for Social Security Online Access and Then Not

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.

August 23, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Social Security, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 19, 2016

95 year old upgrades her tech

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...."

Congratulations!

August 19, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 19, 2016

More on Technology

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.

June 19, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Elder Tech: A Report to the President

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.

 

June 15, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care, Housing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Elders and Social Media

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."

April 21, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Statistics, Web/Tech, Weblogs | 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)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

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, March 6, 2016

An App For Medication Reminders

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.

March 6, 2016 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Health Care/Long Term Care, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Check Out This Video from Professor Hoffman

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 TomorrowAccording 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

 

February 18, 2016 in Books, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Social Media and Advocates for Aging

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."

February 14, 2016 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Statistics, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Getting (or Giving) Tech Gifts for the Holidays?

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.

 

December 24, 2015 in Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Caregiver Drones and Other Robot Caregivers?

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. 

Interesting times...

 

December 16, 2015 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, Science, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1)